Checklist for Certifications from Healthcare Providers
When employees request a medical leave of absence, employers can request that the employee submit a certification from the healthcare provider that has recommended that the employee be off from work. The problem is employers do not know what the certification should entail and get into trouble by calling the healthcare provider seeking additional information. Here is what a typical certification should cover.
1. Employee’s name.
2. Patient’s name (if the patient is not the employee).
3. Date that the medical condition or need for treatment commenced (do NOT request disclosure of the underlying diagnosis).
4. Probable duration of medical condition or need for treatment.
5. Do not get “hung up” over the definition of what constitutes a “serious health condition.” There are definitions under State and Federal guidelines however considering the constant barrage of litigation associated with leaves of absences and reasonable accommodation, it is not worth it. If the employee needs to be off, so be it.
6. If the certification is for the care of an employee’s family member, the employer can request that the doctor provide an additional statement that the condition of the patient warrants the participation of the employee. Use common sense here! If the patient is an “immediate” family member (spouse, child, etc.) then do not press the issue.
7. You can ask for an estimate of the period of time care is needed or during which the employee’s presence would be beneficial. They may be able to work a reduced schedule but may not have to be off entirely.
8. The signature of the healthcare provider.
This list is not intended to be all inclusive but does provide enough information that substantiates the need for the leave of absence. Do not go on a “witch hunt” to determine if the certification submitted is fake. We receive those calls. If you are in doubt, and feel the need to call, keep the call to the healthcare provider simple. Just ask if the doctor provided the certification to the employee and nothing more.
As a final reminder please take into account to be flexible when a leave of absence expires. A reasonable accommodation can also be determined by extending the leave even if the employee has used all available leave. Do NOT be quick to sever the relationship because an employee does not return at the expiration of the leave.