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Supporting Documentation Under the FMLA

by The Human Equation, Inc. on 11/6/2008
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Can I request supporting documentation from an employee seeking time off to care for a spouse suffering from a serious health condition?

Yes. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) was enacted to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families by allowing covered employees to take reasonable leave for medical, health, or family reasons. Under the FMLA, an eligible employee is entitled to take time off to, among other things, care for the "spouse, or a son, daughter, or parent, of the employee, if such spouse, son, daughter, or parent has a serious health condition." Rather than rely solely on an employee's word, an employer may require that a request for leave to care for a spouse with a serious health condition be supported by a certification issued by the health care provider of the appropriate individual, who in this case would be the employee's spouse.

Although the FMLA specifies the information required to constitute a sufficient certification of the need for FMLA leave, the Department of Labor has prepared a Certification of Health Care Provider form intended to simplify the certification procedure. Despite this standardized form, employers wishing to avoid claims of discrimination must be careful in the way they request certifications from their employees. For example, employers who ask for medical certifications from men requesting leave to care for a child, but who do not do so for women making the same request, could find themselves responding to allegations of unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex.

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Categories: 2008

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