HR Management & Compliance

Can You Demand FMLA Fitness-for Duty-Cert? Sure, BUT …

Many employers want a fitness for duty certification when employees return from FMLA leave, especially for those “certain employees.” You can require a certification, but not just for certain employees, and not without carefully following several procedural steps.

First of all, the law says that as a condition of restoring an employee who has been on FMLA, you may require the employee to obtain and present certification from the employee’s health care provider that the employee is able to resume work. However … a number of conditions must be met:

  • The leave must have been because of the employee’s own serious health condition that made the employee unable to perform the employee’s job
  • The fitness-for-duty certification may be sought only with regard to the particular
  • The policy requiring certification must be a uniformly-applied policy or practice that is applied to all similarly-situated employees ( i.e. , same occupation, same serious health condition).

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  • The employee must be advised of your intent to require a fitness for duty certification at the time you designate the leave as FMLA leave. You must also advise the employee at this time whether the fitness-for-duty certification will need to address the employee’s ability to perform the essential functions of the employee’s job. If you choose to require that, you must provide an employee with a list of the essential functions of the employee’s job with the leave designation notice. If the employer satisfies these requirements, the employee’s health care provider must certify that the employee can perform the identified essential functions of his or her job.

If there is no request for certifying the essential functions, the certification from the employee’s health care provider will simply certify that the employee is able to resume work.

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Here’s a sample fitness for duty certification form from BLR®‘s Family and Medical Leave Compliance Guide.


Employee: _____________________________________________
Department/Location: ____________________________________
Status: [   ] Full time     [   ] Part time
On leave since: ____________________

You have my permission to contact the healthcare provider indicated on this certification for purposes of authentication and clarification related to this serious health condition, if necessary.
Signed ___________________________
Date: ____________________________

(Information below to be completed by healthcare provider)

Effective as of ______________________ the above-named employee is:

__ Released to work without restrictions; or
__ Able to perform all essential duties (see attached description of essential job duties); or
__ Released to work with restrictions (please describe restrictions as they relate to the attached description of essential job duties):

Name of healthcare provider: ______________________________
Address: ______________________________________________
Telephone: ____________________________________________
Type of practice/specialty: _________________________________
Signed _________________________________________
Date: ____________________

In tomorrow’s Advisor, more time-saving FMLA forms, and an introduction to the program some call the “FMLA Bible.”

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