Is my employer allowed to ask? (Violation of HIPPA?) — The Bump
Postpartum Depression

Is my employer allowed to ask? (Violation of HIPPA?)

My OB is giving me 1 extra week of leave based on PPD diagnosis so I can see a psychiatrist and determine further treatment. He wrote a note (on a prescription slip) simply stating ?please extend medical leave by 1 week for medical issues?.

I submitted this to my employer who came back and asked that I tell the doctor to provide more detail regarding why I need an extra week of leave.

Is this a violation of HIPPA privacy laws? I know that I need to provide a dr?s note for extra leave but whey do I have to go into reasons? It?s only an extra week  - not a whole month - so I don?t see what the big deal is.

Re: Is my employer allowed to ask? (Violation of HIPPA?)

  • I don't think your employer can ask that, but I'm not 100% certain.

    Evelyn (3.24.10), Graham (5.30.13) & Miles (8.28.16)
  • They can't ask that! Do you have an hr department? Talk to them. Also, your OBs office should be able to help.

    Good luck!
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  • Yes I think they can ask. For my temp disability provided through work, the dr had to go into details as towhy I needed leave. ZThe HR dept reviewed and approved it. If its a smll company and your boss is basically the HR dept then I can see it being allowed.
  • They are allowed to ask.  It's kinda like short term disability. They have you sign a paper stating that before they approve it, they get copies of records to support the reason why the leave is needed.  But your doc's office can't give any info without written consent from you.  That is a HIPPA violation.
  • Is this a week additional to the 12 weeks approved/allowed by FMLA leave?

    If it isn't, I don't think they can/should be able to ask a reason.

    If you fit the FMLA guidelines for how long you've worked there, etc, they HAVE to allow you the allotted 12 (I think it's still 12, I haven't taken FMLA in a couple years) weeks that are stated in the law.


    If this would be like a 13th additional week.....that may be a gray area. They wouldn't TECHNICALLY have to allow it under FMLA, so I could see it being a possibility for information maybe if this was just considered an extra week off that was medically necessary. 

  • I don't know how much this helps, I found this on the FMLA guidelines page


    "Q: Can my employer make inquiries about my leave during my absence?

    Yes, but only to you. Your employer may ask you questions to confirm whether the leave needed or being taken qualifies for FMLA purposes, and may require periodic reports on your status and intent to return to work after leave. Also, if the employer wishes to obtain another opinion, you may be required to obtain additional medical certification at the employer's expense, or recertification during a period of FMLA leave. The employer may have a health care provider representing the employer contact your health care provider, with your permission, to clarify information in the medical certification or to confirm that it was provided by the health care provider. The inquiry may not seek additional information regarding your health condition or that of a family member." 



    I'm not good with legal/contract/law type jargon, but it sounds like they can verify with a health care provider that it was medically certifed for you to take leave,  but it sounds like they can't ask about the condition specifically? I'm not sure.



    AND also this:



    "Q: Do I have to give my employer my medical records for leave due to a serious health condition?

    No. You do not have to provide medical records. The employer may, however, request that, for any leave taken due to a serious health condition, you provide a medical certification confirming that a serious health condition exists." 

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