HR Management & Compliance

Managing Medical Certifications: Authentication, Clarification, And Second Opinions

This article series covers managing medical certifications under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In the previous article, we covered the how to request a medical certification, here we’ll go over authentication, clarification, and second opinions surrounding medical certification. The FMLA regulations offer procedures for authenticating and clarifying medical certifications.

“Authentication” involves giving the employee’s healthcare provider (HCP) a copy of the certification and asking the HCP to verify that the person who signed it actually completed or authorized the information. No additional medical information may be requested in the authentication process. You—or someone in your organization other than the employee’s direct supervisor—may ask the HCP for authentication without going through a third-party HCP.

“Clarification” means contacting the employee’s healthcare provider in order to understand the handwriting or to understand the meaning of the responses contained within the certification. When seeking clarification, you may not ask healthcare providers for additional information beyond that required by the certification form.

The employee’s healthcare provider may require Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) consent for such clarification, and the employee must provide such consent or FMLA leave may be denied.

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