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Am I permitted to communicate directly with employees’ medical professionals?

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in FMLA Guidelines,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Q. I read that the FMLA recently changed to allow me to directly contact an employee’s doctor while that employee is on FMLA leave. Can you explain?

If an employee’s FMLA medical certification is incomplete (required information is omitted) or insufficient (the information provided is vague, ambiguous or nonresponsive), an employer is now entitled to request additional information directly from the employee’s health care provider, subject to certain key limitations.

Before you can directly contact the health care provider, you must first advise the employee, in writing, of the deficiency in the certification and provide at least seven days for the employee to fix the problem.

Thereafter, you can directly contact the employee’s health care provider solely for purposes of clarification (to understand the handwriting on the medical certification or the meaning of a response) or authentication (verification that the health care provider completed or authorized the completion of the certification form).

Only an employer’s own health care provider, HR professional, leave administrator or management official may contact the doctor. Under no circumstances may the employee’s direct supervisor contact the employee’s health care provider.

You may not ask health care providers for additional information beyond that required by the FMLA certification form (including diagnostic information).

Finally, while an employee must give written authorization before you can contact the health care provider, the employee’s failure to consent entitles you to deny the FMLA request.

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