Can an employer check the authenticity of a sick note?

Posted  07-02-2014

Ann Kiernan replies:

If the note is a certification submitted in support of an employee’s FMLA leave, federal regulations expressly allow employers to contact the medical provider to verify that the information contained on the certification form was completed and/or authorized by the health care provider who signed the document. The regulations also allow employers to contact the health care provider to decipher the handwriting on the medical certification or to understand the meaning of a response. In either case, employers may not ask health care providers for additional information beyond that required by the certification form. See: 29 C.F.R. §825.307(a).

I suggest that you use the same rules for other kinds of medical notes.

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.


About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.