Answers To Frequently Asked Questions--Part Two

I am frequently asked the following question:

Q.  May an employer contact any employee's physician in connection with a request for FMLA leave?

A.  Before making any contact with an employee's physician, an employer should require that the employee seeking leave for her own serious health condition or that of a family member have her physician complete a certification of health care provider form that is consistent with the Department of Labor's sample form.  Under the revised regulations issued in 2008, a representative of an employer may contact an employee's health care provider directly about a medical certification, but only to seek "authentication" or "clarification" of information on the form.  The employer's representative must be a health care provider, human resources professional, a leave administrator, or a management official, but the representative may not be the employee's direct supervisor.  Further, employers may not ask health care providers for additional information beyond that required by the certification form.