Putting employee on FMLA leave: Who decides?

Q. I’m confused about medical certifications and employees who don’t want to use FMLA leave. Can I, if I believe the employee is out for an FMLA condition, force him to take FMLA leave? — A. B., Florida

A. It’s not up to your employees to decide whether they want to use FMLA leave. On the contrary, to avoid employee abuse and “stacking” of leave, it is almost always in your best interest to make sure that any leave that may be FMLA-qualifying is properly designated as early as possible.

If you don’t know for sure whether an employee’s absence is caused by an FMLA-qualifying event, send a letter to the employee that preliminarily designates the time off as FMLA time.

The letter should also request that the employee return a completed certification of health care provider form within 15 days. After you review the completed form, you should issue another letter indicating that the preliminary designation is becoming final or, alternatively, that the leave is not deemed as FMLA-qualifying.