(a) Any employee who takes leave under § 630.1203(a) of this part shall be entitled, upon return to the agency, to be returned to—
(1) The same position held by the employee when the leave commenced; or
(2) An equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay, status, and other terms and conditions of employment.
(b) For the purpose of applying paragraph (a)(2) of this section, an equivalent position must be in the same commuting area and must carry or provide at a minimum—
(1) The same or substantially similar duties and responsibilities, which must entail substantially equivalent skill, effort, responsibility, and authority;
(2) An equivalent grade or pay level, including any applicable locality payment under 5 CFR part 531, subpart F; special rate supplement under 5 CFR part 530, subpart C; or similar payment or supplement under other legal authority;
(3) The same type of appointment, work schedule, status, and tenure;
(4) The same employment benefits made available to the employee in his or her previous position (e.g., life insurance, health benefits, retirement coverage, and leave accrual);
(5) The same or equivalent opportunity for a within-grade increase, performance award, incentive award, or other similar discretionary and non-discretionary payments, consistent with applicable laws and regulations; however, the entitlement to be returned to an equivalent position does not extend to intangible or unmeasurable aspects of the job;
(6) The same or equivalent opportunity for premium pay consistent with applicable law and regulations under 5 CFR part 550, subpart A, or 5 CFR part 551, subpart E; and
(7) The same or equivalent opportunity for training or education benefits consistent with applicable laws and regulations, including any training that an employee may be required to complete to qualify for his or her previous position.
(c) As a result of taking leave under § 630.1203(a) of this part, an employee shall not suffer the loss of any employment benefit accrued prior to the date on which the leave commenced.
(d) Except as otherwise provided by or under law, a restored employee shall not be entitled to—
(1) The accrual of any employment benefits during any period of leave; or
(2) Any right, benefit, or position of employment other than any right, benefit, or position to which the employee would have been entitled had the employee not taken the leave.
(e) For the purpose of applying paragraph (d) of this section, the same entitlements and limitations in law and regulations that apply to the position, pay, benefits, status, and other terms and conditions of employment of an employee in a leave without pay status shall apply to any employee taking leave without pay under this part, except where different entitlements and limitations are specifically provided in this subpart.
(f) An employee is not entitled to be returned to the same or equivalent position under paragraph (a) of this section if the employee would not otherwise have been employed in that position at the time the employee returns from leave.
(g) An agency may not return an employee to an equivalent position where written notification has been provided that the equivalent position will be affected by a reduction in force if the employee's previous position is not affected by a reduction in force.
(h) As a condition to returning an employee who takes leave under § 630.1203(a)(4), an agency may establish a uniformly applied practice or policy that requires all similarly-situated employees (i.e., same occupation, same serious health condition) to obtain written medical certification from the health care provider of the employee that the employee is able to perform the essential functions of his or her position. An agency may delay the return of an employee until the medical certification is provided. The same conditions for verifying the adequacy of a medical certification in § 630.1208(c) apply to the medical certification to return to work. No second or third opinion on the medical certification to return to work may be required. An agency may not require a medical certification to return to work during the period the employee takes leave intermittently or under a reduced leave schedule under § 630.1205.
(i) If an agency requires an employee to obtain written medical certification under paragraph (h) of this section before he or she returns to work, the agency shall notify the employee of this requirement before leave commences, or to the extent practicable in emergency medical situations, and pay the expenses for obtaining the written medical certification. An employee's refusal or failure to provide written medical certification under paragraph (h) of this section may be grounds for appropriate disciplinary or adverse action, as provided in part 752 of this chapter.
(j) An agency may require an employee to report periodically to the agency on his or her status and intention to return to work. An agency's policy requiring such reports must take into account all of the relevant facts and circumstances of the employee's situation.
(k) An employee's decision to invoke FMLA leave under § 630.1203(a) does not prohibit an agency from proceeding with appropriate actions under part 432 or part 752 of this chapter.
(l) An employee who does not comply with the notification requirements in § 630.1207 and does not provide medical certification signed by the health care provider that includes all of the information required in § 630.1208(b) is not entitled to family and medical leave.