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How to Handle Military Certifications

The FMLA provides two types of military family leave for FMLA-eligible employees. They are referred to as “qualifying exigency leave” and “military caregiver leave.”

Qualifying Exigency Leave Eligible employees who are the spouse, son, daughter, or parent of a military member may take up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave during any 12-month period to address the most common issues that arise when a military member is deployed to a foreign country, such as attending military sponsored functions, making appropriate financial and legal arrangements, and arranging for alternative childcare. This applies to the families of members of both the active duty and reserve components of the Armed Forces.

Military Caregiver Leave
Eligible employees who are the spouse, son, daughter, parent or next of kin of a covered servicemember may take up to 26 weeks of FMLA leave during a single 12-month period to care for the servicemember/covered veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty on active duty. This applies to the families of members of both the active duty and reserve components of the Armed Forces.

The first time that an employee requests qualifying exigency leave, an employer may require the employee to provide a copy of the covered military member’s active duty orders or other documentation issued by the military that indicates that the covered military member is on active duty or called to active duty status to a foreign country and the dates of the covered military member’s active duty service.  In addition, each time that an employee first requests leave for one of the qualifying exigencies, an employer may require employees to complete a military certification.  When leave is taken to care for a covered servicemember/veteran with a serious injury or illness, an employer may also require an employee to complete a military certification completed by an authorized health care provider of the covered servicemember/veteran.

The same timing requirements for certifications apply to all requests for FMLA leave  An employee must provide the requested medical/military certification to the employer within 15 calendar days.  Employers are generally not permitted to require second or third opinions on qualifying exigency or military caregiver leave certifications.