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Healthcare Provider Certification Under The FMLA

Limited Employer Contact With The Healthcare Provider

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In general

An employee may allow an employer to contact a healthcare provider rather than speak with the provider him or herself.

An employer may contact a healthcare provider directly for authentication or clarification of a document after it has provided the employee an opportunity to cure any missing, incomplete or ambiguous entries.

An employer's contact may come from Human Resources, a leave administrator, or a management official. A direct supervisor may not contact the healthcare provider.

If an employee fails or refuses to cure deficiencies or does not grant permission to contact a healthcare provider, an employer may deny leave.


An employer is permitted to provide a healthcare provider with a copy of a certification and request verification that information in the document was completed by or authorized by the healthcare provider. Permission is not required to contact a healthcare provider just for authentication of the document and signature.


An employer must obtain permission from the employee before asking a healthcare provider for clarification of "individually-identifiable" health information. (This is because of HIPAA, not the FMLA. For information about HIPAA, see the document in "To Learn More").

When contacting a healthcare provider about a certification, the employer can only ask about information that is contained in the certification. For example, if a certification says an employee may not lift heavy objects, and the employee must regularly lift 25 pound objects, the employer can ask the healthcare provider to state whether the employee can lift 25 pounds.

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