FMLA condition?

We have an employee that missed 4 days of work due to illness.  He brought in FMLA paperwork but it just has a diagnosis of lower back pain with no other  info about treatment or therapy or anything.  If it's not a serious medical condition we don't have to grant FMLA leave, right?  Any advice on what we can or should do next?


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  • Well, in order to be a FMLA-covered serious health condition, the illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition must involve either inpatient care (i.e., an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice, or residential care facility) or continuing treatment by a healthcare provider. To qualify as "continuing treatment," the condition must involve:
          • A period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive calendar days, and any subsequent treatment or period of incapacity for the same condition that also involves either treatment two or more times by a healthcare provider or treatment by a healthcare provider at least once that results in a regimen of continuing treatment under the supervision of the healthcare provider
          • Any period of incapacity because of pregnancy or prenatal care
          • Any period of incapacity because of a chronic serious condition
          • A period of incapacity that is permanent or long term because of a condition for which treatment may not be effective (e.g., Alzheimer's disease)
          • Any period of absence to receive multiple treatments by a healthcare provider (e.g., for reconstructive surgery after an accident or injury) or for a condition that would likely result in a period of incapacity of more than 3 consecutive days if untreated, such as for cancer (chemotherapy) or kidney disease (dialysis

    So, in the case you describe, the employee was incapacitated for 4 days (more than 3) -- now the question is, is he having any "subsequent treatment" with more visits to the doctor or a continuing regimen of treatment? Usually, with back injuries, there is some form of followup, physical therapy, etc.

     You should ask specifically for a certification of his condition, and need for further leave of care, by using the DOL's form (WH-380) -- on the DOL site at

    Good luck!!

  • My advice is to err on the side of caution and perhaps re-evaluate your FMLA forms.  Our forms for FMLA has a separate section for the physician called -Certification of Physician or Practitioner.  In that section are questions such as:  Probable duration of condition; Regiment of treatment to be prescribed (i.e. # of visits, general nature and duration of treatment); hospitalization required?; and restrictions; schedule of visits or teatment if it is medically necessary for the employee to be off work on an intermittent basis.  Having the physican answer these questions will help determine the granting of FMLA leave. 
  • the feds have a model form for fmla certification.  are you saying the doctor didn't fill it out properly or that it wasn't filled out at all?  you can ask for a second opinion if you have doubts about the validity of the first doctor's. you can choose the doctor but must pay for it.  the doctor cannot be employed by you regularly.

    the form. ;

  • By the way (and not sure if this is applicable to your situation or not) but the ADA may also come into play here...check out  the following link to JAN (Job Accommodation Network) for info on accommodating employees w/ back impairments:
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