Can we request doctor (not nurse) sign FMLA form?

Q. Do we have to take a nurse’s signature on an FMLA certification? I’d like to have an actual doctor sign the forms so I am sure someone actually saw the employee. — J.L., New Jersey

A. FMLA rules say a “health care provider” must complete a certification form to ensure the validity of the employee’s (or the employee’s immediate family member’s) serious health condition. The FMLA defines the term “health care provider” like this:

  1. A doctor of medicine or osteopathy who is authorized to practice medicine or surgery (as appropriate) by the state in which the doctor practices; or
  2. Any other person determined by the Secretary of Labor to be capable of providing health care services. The provider must be authorized to diagnose and treat physical or mental health conditions. (29 CFR 825.125)

The question then becomes whether a nurse can diagnose and treat in your state. If he or she is a nurse practitioner, chances are that meets the requirement. Also, the doctor in that practice may have delegated the signing of FMLA forms to an office nurse, even though the doctor conducted the assessment.

Before rejecting the certification, inquire as to the status of the nurse. Download FMLA forms at “DOL releases updated FMLA forms with 2015 expiration date.”