At times, you may be surprised when the employee denies your sick leave request even if you comply with all requirements mentioned above. Employers need not approve all requests for FMLA leave. They may use discretionary powers to reject the sick leave application if they feel the reason mentioned does not fall in categories making the employee eligible for FMLA leave. They may also insist on a medical certificate or documentation as proof of illness or any other condition, and reject your request if you fail to do so. Sick leave for conditions such as nonemergency medical, dental, or optical purposes fall in the realm of employer discretion, regardless of whether the employee provides valid reasons or acceptable medical documentation.
The quantum of leave approved also depends on the realm of managerial judgment, and their perception of severity of the condition. For instance, employers may not approve FMLA leave for a common cold or flu only for a few days, but would most likely approve the full 12 weeks for a bypass surgery. Similarly, the employee may allow for FMLA leave for the employee to care for his grandfather, but only if the grandfather happens to be the employee’s legal guardian.
Companies may institute a FMLA certification form that asks doctors specific information regarding the condition, such as the date the condition started, estimated duration of the condition, required treatment and other details, and process leave applications accordingly. The company may also ask for a second or even third opinion, requiring the employee to make other doctors fill out the same form, and then evaluate the opinions to make a decision on whether to approve or deny the leave.