OFLA Requests for Medical Verification

Often, employers seek more information from employees about their need for leave than permitted by law. OFLA provides that “… a covered employer may require medical verification from a health care provider of the need for the leave if the leave is for a purpose described in ORS 659A.159 (1)(b) to (d)…. In addition to the medical verifications provided for in this subsection, an employer may require subsequent medical verification on a reasonable basis.” The administrative rules explain: “An employer may not request subsequent medical verifications more often than every 30 days and then only in connection with the employee’s absence except when: (a) Circumstances described by the previous medical verification have changed significantly (e.g., the duration or frequency of absences, the severity of conditions, or complications); or (b) The employer receives information that casts doubt upon the employee’s stated reason for the absence.” OAR 820.009.0260.

In a recent BOLI Final Order, the employer ran afoul of the medical verification rule when it required an employee to provide a “medical note” every time he was absent. BOLI concluded that the “medical note” was analogous to a medical verification, and found that requests made more frequently that every 30 days were improper. However, BOLI also found that where a doctor’s note indicated the possibility of “occasional tardiness due to severe pain,” a three-day absence qualified as a “changed circumstance” that permitted the employer to request medical verification more frequently.   http://www.oregon.gov/boli/Legal/docs/FOpdffiles/2014_FOs/Oak_Harbor_66-12.pdf

Typically, problems with medical verification arise when employees are on intermittent leave and employers suspect abuse or misuse of time off. Whatever the circumstance, however, employers need to document the basis for verification requests and carefully review the initial verification before asking for subsequent verification(s) from an employee on OFLA leave.

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