FMLA Certifications from Foreign Doctors
Q: I have a worker that returned to her country during the holiday season and sent a cryptic note from her foreign doctor, stating she needed to stay and care for her mother. Do I have to provide FMLA leave?
A: Yes, if she is eligible for leave and you receive timely, complete, and sufficient information supporting the need for leave from her mother’s health care provider. A certification from a foreign provider is sufficient under the FMLA, so long as that person is authorized to practice in his or her country, which is understandably a difficult thing to verify. The Department of Labor is more flexible, stating “If the employee or the employee’s family member is visiting another country, or a family member resides in another country, and a serious health condition develops, the employer must accept a medical certification, as well as second and third opinions, from a health care provider who practices in that country.” However, you can still require sufficient information, such as that contained in the WH 380-F, which is the Department of Labor’s model certification form for care of family members. The key details contained in this form must be filled in and understandable, sufficient for you to make a determination whether the FMLA applies. If the note is written in another language, it is not invalid, but you can require your employee to have it translated. There are different strategies in handling these situations, depending on your employee’s absence and the note you received. Read more about Leave Laws on our blog, and contact Vigilant for help getting the information you need.