J. J. Keller® Compliance Network Logo
Start Experiencing Compliance Network for Free!
Update to Professional Trial!

Be Part of the Ultimate Safety & Compliance Community

Trending news, knowledge-building content, and more – all personalized to you!

Already have an account?
Thank you for investing in EnvironmentalHazmat related content. Click 'UPGRADE' to continue.
Enjoy your limited-time access to the Compliance Network Professional Trial!
A confirmation welcome email has been sent to your email address from ComplianceNetwork@t.jjkellercompliancenetwork.com. Please check your spam/junk folder if you can't find it in your inbox.
Thank you for your interest in EnvironmentalHazmat related content.
You've reached your limit of free access, if you'd like more info, please contact us at 800-327-6868.

A health care provider may, but is not required to, provide a diagnosis on a medical certification under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), according to the U.S. Department of Labor Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. In fact, some states, such as California, have laws that prohibit employers from asking for a diagnosis. Therefore, employers may not mandate that a certification includes one.

FMLA certifications

Employees who meet the eligibility criteria are entitled to take FMLA job-protected leave for a limited number of qualifying reasons, including the employee’s or a family member’s serious health condition. It’s up to the employer to determine when an employee’s absence is for one of those qualifying reasons. To help accomplish this, employers may request that an employee provide a certification.

FMLA certifications in support of leave for a serious health condition may generally include a diagnosis (except where prohibited), but the decision to include one is up to the doctor, not the employer.

Medical facts, not diagnoses, are key

A diagnosis might help employers determine whether the leave qualifies for FMLA protections — whether an employee or family member has a serious health condition. Employers should not, however, rely solely on a diagnosis. Two people could have the same diagnosis, but have very different medical issues. Therefore, a diagnosis, by itself, is not the whole story.

Certifications must, however, include enough appropriate medical facts about the condition such as:

  • Symptoms,
  • Hospitalization, or
  • Doctor’s visits.

The provider decides what to include

The health care provider determines which medical facts are appropriate will vary depending on the nature of the serious health condition. Employers may not reject a certification because it lacks a diagnosis if the information provided is otherwise sufficient to verify that the condition is a qualifying serious health condition.

The current FMLA certification includes a list of the parts of the definition of a serious condition to help make the determination of whether a serious health condition is involved. Health care providers can simply review the list and choose one or more choices.

Although the certification includes medical information, it should not contain information about genetic tests, genetic services, or evidence of disease among the employee’s family members. This could risk a violation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

Key to remember: When giving an employee a certification form, don’t mandate that it include a diagnosis. When a certification is received, review it to ensure that it is complete and sufficient, and has enough medical information to determine if a serious health condition is involved.