The Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to take an unpaid leave of absence for up to 12 weeks. The U.S. Department of Labor notes that when employees submit a certified health care record, employers cannot request information from their doctors.
Employees may discuss their FMLA needs with their supervisor or HR department. When employees provide a certified note from a doctor, however, a worker’s direct supervisor may not contact the health care provider to discuss the medical condition.
Contacting a physician for verification
An administrative HR representative may contact a doctor to authenticate information on an employee’s supplied medical records. HR may verify that they contain correct and complete details. Doctors may also respond to a request to verify their signatures.
An employer’s HR representative may ask a health care provider to clarify an employee’s medical record for understanding. The representative may not, however, request any information that does not appear on the certification.
Submitting a return-to-work note
Employers may ask employees coming back after a leave of absence to submit a return-to-work note from their doctors. As reported by HRM America, this document may facilitate a reasonable accommodation or adjustment to an employee’s workplace under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, however, notes that the law does not require employees to submit their medical records when returning to work. If an employer wrongfully demotes or fires a worker after returning, the action may violate federal labor laws.
Employees have a right to take up to 12 weeks of time off for an illness or to care for their family members. An employer infringing upon an individual’s medical privacy or retaliating in response to a leave of absence may face legal action for relief.