Notice and Documentation Requirements: Properly Requesting and Documenting FMLA Leave

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Notice and Documentation Requirements: Properly Requesting and Documenting FMLA Leave

Notice and Documentation Requirements: Properly Requesting and Documenting FMLA Leave


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides eligible employees with job-protected leave for qualifying family and medical reasons. As an employee, it is essential to understand the notice and documentation requirements associated with FMLA leave to ensure compliance with the law and protect your rights. In this article, we will discuss the importance of properly requesting FMLA leave and documenting it according to the legal requirements.

Understanding Notice Requirements
When requesting FMLA leave, employees are required to provide their employers with notice. Proper notice ensures that both parties are aware of the need for leave and can initiate the FMLA process. Here are some key aspects to consider regarding FMLA notice requirements:

a) Foreseeable Leave: If the need for FMLA leave is foreseeable, such as for a planned medical procedure or the expected birth of a child, employees must provide their employer with at least 30 days’ notice. If 30 days’ notice is not feasible, notice should be given as soon as practicable.

b) Unforeseeable Leave: In cases where the need for FMLA leave is unforeseeable, such as due to a sudden illness or emergency, employees must provide notice as soon as practicable under the circumstances. Generally, this means notifying the employer within one or two business days of learning of the need for leave.

c) Content of Notice: When requesting FMLA leave, employees should provide sufficient information to inform the employer of the need for leave and its expected duration. This may include the reason for the leave, the anticipated start and end dates, and any relevant medical information or certification.

Certification and Documentation Requirements
To support the request for FMLA leave, employers may require employees to provide certification or documentation. It is crucial to understand the certification requirements and provide the necessary documentation in a timely manner. Here are some key points to consider:

a) Certification of a Serious Health Condition: If the FMLA leave is related to a serious health condition of the employee or their family member, the employer may request certification from a healthcare provider. This certification should provide details about the condition, the need for leave, and the expected duration.

b) Timing of Certification: Employees generally have 15 calendar days to provide the requested certification after the employer’s request, unless it is not practicable to do so despite the employee’s diligent efforts. Failure to provide the requested certification may result in the denial of FMLA leave.

c) Recertification: Employers may also have the right to request recertification of a serious health condition during the course of FMLA leave. Recertification may be requested periodically or if there is a change in circumstances.

d) Privacy of Medical Information: Employers must handle medical information provided by employees with confidentiality and in compliance with privacy laws, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Proper Documentation and Recordkeeping
Employees should maintain proper documentation of their FMLA leave requests and related communication. This documentation will serve as evidence in case of any disputes or future reference. Here are some recommended practices for proper documentation and recordkeeping:

a) Keep Copies: Keep copies of all correspondence related to your FMLA leave, including emails, letters, and any supporting documentation.

b) Confirm in Writing: Whenever possible, communicate your FMLA leave requests and related information in writing to create a clear record of the request.

c) Retain Proof of Delivery: If providing notice or documentation in person, consider obtaining a receipt or confirmation of delivery. If sending documents by mail or email, retain proof of sending, such as certified mail receipts or email delivery receipts.

d) Maintain a Record: Keep a personal record of your FMLA leave dates, any conversations with your employer or HR representative, and any relevant medical information or certification.

Consultation with Employment Law Attorneys
If you encounter any difficulties or believe your rights under the FMLA are being violated during the notice and documentation process, it is crucial to consult with an employment law attorney. An attorney can review your case, provide guidance on your rights and responsibilities, and help navigate any legal complexities or disputes that may arise.


Properly requesting and documenting FMLA leave is essential for employees seeking job-protected time off for qualifying family and medical reasons. Understanding the notice requirements, providing timely certification and documentation, and maintaining accurate records will help ensure compliance with the FMLA and protect your rights. If you encounter any challenges or have concerns regarding your FMLA leave, consult with an experienced employment law attorney who can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the process.

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