Monday, September 3, 2007

FMLA Forms

The best FMLA forms are the ones provided by the APWU. Here is a link to their FMLA Forms. Forms Numbers 2 and 3 are the most common ones to use. Form 2 is for the employee's own serious health problem. For 3 is for the employee's family member.
When an employee comes to me and wants information about FMLA and Certification, I print out 3 copies of the form. Then I take one copy and fill it out for the employee. I'm careful to write down in the margins that this form is just an example or a sample but not a diagnosis. this way if management ever gets their hands on it, then I'm not in trouble for practicing medicine without a licence.
I'll give you an example of how I fill out form number 2 using Migraine Headaches as the condition. The first line is the employee's name, that's easy. The second line, the doctor checks the number of the condition. Those numbers are explained on the second page of Form 2. For Migraine Headaches, the doctor would check next to the number 4.
The next line gives doctors the most trouble. They cannot figure out how to explain why the condition is number 4 without giving a diagnosis. This is what they should put down for a Migraine. "Periodic severe headaches that Incapacitates the employee." Remember, FMLA Coordinators are idiots and everything must be explained in small words. Also, the Key Word in the description is "Incapacitates". Make sure that word is used.
Date commenced.....When the doctor diagnosed the problem
Probable Duration....Migraines are a Life long problem
Present Duration.....Only filled out if you are out sick that day.
The next box: Will the employee be out intermittently? "Yes" Probable time? "One to three days per episode", or however long you will really need.
Next Box: If the condition is chronic (Migraines are) then the frequency? One or Two episodes per month / Quarter / Year. Whatever applies, but be sure to give yourself one more out than you really need. If you go over the number of times the doctor spells out in the FMLA Certification, then management will make you resubmit your FMLA Certification.
Next Box: Treatments? Medicine and Bed Rest when condition flairs up.
Next Box: Is the employee able to do his/her job? "YES!" Make sure you say "yes" on this or the ELM's rules will take effect and you will have to get doctor certification to return to work after every absence.
Lastly the doctor MUST sign, date and give his address and phone number.
This is VERY Important: Why did I print out 3 copies of this? One copy I filled out, the other two are for the doctor. IF he/she messes up on one of the FMLA forms, DO NOT use White-Out or scratch the mistake out. Start over! Management will say that the employee changed the form and send you back to the doctor's office. IF your doctor's office does everything on a computer now, including fill out these forms, then when he/she prints out the form, make sure they sign the printed copy.
Form Number 3 is very similar to Form number 2 except for one major addition."Does the patient require assistance for basic medical, hygiene, nutritional needs, safety, or transportation?_______ If no, would the employee's presence to provide psychological comfort be beneficial to the patient's recovery?____ Note the probable duration of the need."This means that you can be off to take your mother to her doctor's visit if she has a medical condition that does not allow her to drive. You can even go to feed her or hold her hand when she is having a bad day because of advanced Alzheimer's or something like that.

FMLA Certification Form

The FMLA Certification Form does not have to be the WH-380 that the USPS likes to use. In fact, it doesn't have to be a "Form" at all. If the doctor gives all the pertinent information on his letterhead and signs it, that can be just as good. Regulation 825.306 explains what information the doctor needs to provide. It also explains that management cannot ask for more information.
I had an FMLA Regional Coordinator send a letter to an employee telling him to resubmit for FMLA certification within 10 days and that there needed to be documentation from the doctor explaining why the employee's leave had to be connected to a weekend every time he was out.
I had the employee resubmit the FMLA but told him not to give the coordinator the extra information he asked for. Also, I filed, and won, a grievance because it was illegal for the coordinator to ask for that extra information plus ask for re-certification to be given within 10 days instead of 15. I got the employee $40 for the office visit plus mileage.

The Two Day Rule

The FMLA Regulations are available in PDF format and you can download them from This is the National Association of Letter Carriers web site and they have a lot of good information here.
When you download the Regulations, in Adobe Acrobat, use the search feature and look for "Two Business Days". You will find that the FMLA Regulations revolve around Two Business Days and you will find 21 results.
The most important thing you will find is that management Must let you know within "two business days" after turning in your FMLA Certification if it has been accepted or not. 825.208(b)(1) If they haven't let you know by then, a grievance should be filed to have it marked as approved. I usually give them 3 week days so an arbitrator can see I've given management the benefit of the doubt.
If you return from an illness and you want to clam this as an FMLA absence, then you must let management know within "two business days".
825.306(b) gives that an employee has 15 days to provide the FMLA certification after management is given notice the leave is for FMLA reasons.
If you are in trouble, download the FMLA Regulations PDF and protect yourself.


The number one reason FMLA is there for employees is to protect them while themselves, or an immediate family member is "Incapacitated". The definition of Incapacitated is that you are unable to perform one or more of your job functions. Bending, lifting, standing or even sitting, if it is part of your job function and you cannot do it because of a medical condition you have, then you are incapacitated.
If your family member has a medical condition that makes it so they cannot do things for himself/herself such as basic hygiene, transportation or eating, then you can get FMLA Protection to take care of that person. (Don't try to be a jerk and apply this to a new born baby. It has to be a medical condition) ;-)
When you get your doctor to fill out your form for FMLA Certification, make sure the doctor uses the word "Incapacitated" as the reason you need to be out.

Starting This Blog

I called my local office of the Department of Labor the other day. I wanted the number to my state capital's Department of Labor's office so I could get a copy of the FMLA Federal Regulations. BTW, they will send you a free copy, just for the asking.
Anyway, I was talking to the agent there and he asked me where I worked. I told him, "The Post Office". He then told me that he gets more calls and complaints from Postal employees than from any other business. He then tells me that if I needed anything solved, then I'd have to see my steward. I told him that I am a steward and that is why I needed a hard copy of the FMLA Regulations.
The Agents of the Department of Labor can, but won't investigate the Postal Service for violations of the FMLA Act. The problem is that these are U.S. Government agencies we are dealing with. If the Department of Labor recommends that the USPS be cited for violations in the law, then they turn the case over to the Justice Department for prosecution. When the Postal Service finds out they are being taken to court, they call the Justice Department to represent them. So the Justice Department ends up fighting against itself and they won't do that.
So who can you turn to fight the USPS when it comes to FMLA violations, ME! Your friendly, co-working, Union Steward. On this site I'm going to try to share some of the things I've learned about FMLA from fighting management for the past 9 years as a Union Steward. I hope it helps.