Managing Your Own Medical Leave Of Absence
How much information must I give my employer about my medical condition? What steps must I take to ensure that I receive the full benefit of my FMLA leave?
The answer to this question partly depends upon if you have an HR person. If you do, it’s always best to work through HR. Your personal medical information is protected information but if you are going to be away from work for longer than 3 days, you will need to provide a Dr. certification justifying the need for this.This documentation should always go to HR rather than your manager. HR has a need to know, your manager may not have that same need. Actually, the less your manager knows about your personal medical situation, sometimes the better. Better for you and better for the manager.
For instance, if you are requesting that your employer grant you a reasonable accommodation pertaining to the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), you will need to provide information to your employer (HR) that is enough to establish that you are disabled. Likewise, if you are requesting to take leave from work due to a certain medical condition for more than a number of specified days, the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and/or your employer’s internal policies may require you to obtain a medical certificate from your doctor confirming the existence of a serious medical condition as defined by the FMLA. HR will provide to the manager only the information they need to make a decision surrounding whether you can continue to do the essential functions of your job with or without the accommodation.The accommodation process should be a dialog between you, HR and the manager.
There are other considerations that may affect your decision to reveal certain personal information to your employer. Disclosing certain facts may make your work environment less stressful, and account for any changes in your behavior while at work. Plus, having knowledge of your condition may enable your employer to assist you if you become suddenly ill or in need of medical treatment while at work.
As an employee, you must provide notice of your need for FMLA leave. You can give notice verbally or in written form. The first time you request leave for a qualifying reason, you are not required to specifically mention the FMLA. However, you are required to provide enough information for the employer to know that the leave may be covered by the FMLA.
For foreseeable leave, you also need to indicate when and how much leave is needed. Generally, you must give at least a 30 days advance notice of the need to take FMLA leave when you know about the need ahead of time. For example, if you are scheduled for a procedure in two months, the need for leave is foreseeable and you need to provide the 30 days advance notice. If you don’t provide at least 30 days advance notice, and it was possible to do so, your employer may delay the FMLA leave until 30 days after the date that you provided the notice.
It is your responsibility to provide the initial certification if your employer requests it. This includes finding a health care provider to produce a complete and sufficient certification, and to pay for the cost of the certification if there is one. If you fail to provide the proper paperwork, your employer may deny the request for FMLA leave.
The medical certification needs to include the following information: Contact information for the health care provider; When the serious health condition began; How long the health condition is expected to last; If you are the patient, whether you are unable to work, and the likely duration of this inability. If a family member is the patient, whether the family member needs care, and an estimate of the frequency and duration of the leave required to care for the family member; Whether your need for leave is continuous or intermittent; and Appropriate medical facts about the condition. At the health care provider’s discretion, the medical facts may include information on symptoms, doctor’s visits, or a diagnosis. Whether a diagnosis is included in the certification form is left to the discretion of the health care provider and an employer may not reject a complete and sufficient certification because it lacks a diagnosis.
It’s the responsibility of your employer to inform you if they find that a certification is incomplete or insufficient, and needs to give you in writing what additional information is necessary to make it complete. Your employer must give you seven days to fix any such deficiency. If the deficiencies stated by the employer are not fixed in the resubmitted certification, the employer may deny the taking of FMLA leave.
Managing your leave of absence does not need to be a stress filled event. Contact us today. We would love to help you through your HR related questions.