Ask the Experts: Foreign FMLA Documentation

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Question: How should we handle a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave request for an employee to care for a parent who lives outside the United States? Can we request translation and notarization of paperwork?

Answer: The same leave allowance and notice requirements apply to a leave taken to care for a family member with a serious health condition whether it is taken domestically or abroad.

You can require the employee to furnish a completed Form WH-380-F, FMLA Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition. Let your employee know that you will require certification to approve their request for leave and that it is their responsibility to ensure the documentation is complete and sufficient. If the documentation is insufficient, the leave may be denied. The employee is responsible for the cost to provide the certification and generally has 15 days from the date of request to provide it.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “Where a certification by a foreign health care provider is in a language other than English, the employee must provide the employer with a written translation of the certification upon request.”

Once you receive complete certification from your employee, you may not request additional information from the health care provider. However, a human resource professional, leave administrator, or other healthcare provider may ask the healthcare provider to authenticate the information received.

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