May employers mandate that an employee’s absence be counted as FMLA leave?
If the employee meets the eligibility criteria and the reason for the absence qualifies for FMLA leave, then you (as the employer) are generally required to provide the FMLA protections. One of the challenges is obtaining enough information to determine whether the reason qualifies for FMLA leave. Employees don’t always return a completed requested certification. In those situations, if you do not otherwise have enough information to determine if the reason qualifies, you may delay or deny the FMLA leave until a certification is provided.