Verbal Communication

Supervisors and HR Representatives sometimes struggle with how to approach an employee who is or has been absent from work, to communicate information about FMLA and leave benefits and to obtain needed information in proper designation of leave accruals and FMLA coverage. Use the PDF iconSupervisor and Employee Conversations Concerning Absence from Work (pdf) for more conversation resources.

The conversations below should include an HR Representative and supervisor. However, the supervisor should not participate in the conversation if a diagnosis or specific medical condition information is discussed or will be shared. FSDS is available to assist with these conversations.

  • Conversation: To determine leave needs and information for a possible return to work
    • Information needed: beginning and ending dates of leave needs, knowledge that leave is required for treatment/recovery and whenever possible, and restrictions that may allow an employee to return to work with accommodation. With accommodation, an employee may be able to return sooner than anticipated.
    • The HR Representatives are to assist the supervisor and employee regarding any applicable policies and regulations applicable to the absence.
  • Conversation: To determine if leave qualifies for FMLA or other approved leave
  • For an FMLA eligible employee, refer to the PDF iconHealth Certification Checklist (pdf) for questions to determine an eligible health condition
  • For non-FMLA leaves of absence, determine medical need for absence and duration, intent to return with provision of a defined date, and what is happening during the requested absence that will allow the employee to return at the end of a leave. FileNon-FMLA Continuous Medical Leave Request Letter (pdf) will typically be required; however communication with the employee is beneficial as well. If written documentation is also necessary, FSDS is available to assist
  • An unpaid leave not eligible for FMLA should be considered first as an accommodation request before applicable policy or contract. Click the link titled Disability and Unpaid Leave Clarification for more information.
  • Many continuous absences, hospitalizations, etc (not intermittent FMLA leave) require a release to work to determine an employee’s ability to return. A PDF iconRelease to Work Form (pdf) is available in Forms and Templates.
  • Information that can be gathered from a conversation: date of intent to return to work, knowledge of any restrictions to prepare for a return or discuss accommodations.
  • This will typically be a written document, however sharing the information required for consideration of leave authorization and providing an explanation can be helpful in gaining the information needed to make an appropriate decision.
  • The information required will depend upon an employee’s eligibility for FMLA. A non-FMLA leave request should include the following information: medical need for absence and duration, intent to return with provision of a defined date, and what is happening during the absence that will allow the employee to return at the end of a leave. A non-FMLA leave request form may be required, and the employee and FSDS should be notified of approval. Additionally, FSDS must be included in conversation considering denial.
  • Written documentation may be required, however sharing the information and providing an explanation can be helpful in gaining the information needed.
  • Conversation: To determine information needed for return to work
  • Conversation: To communicate insufficient information provided for a leave request
  • Conversation: To communicate next steps if appropriate documentation or response has not been provided and coach on performance management if not returned

Written Communication

There are many scenarios when it may be appropriate to send written communication to an employee regarding leave, and there are templates and forms provided for many situations including: Refer to Forms and Templates for links to documentation.

  • Non-FMLA
    • Request for leave – letter and form
    • Exhaustion of paid leave accruals - letter
    • Leave as an accommodation under the ADA (form - IDAD)
  • FMLA
  • Eligibility Notice – form
  • Health Certification Self/Family/Military – form
  • Notice of Designation – form
  • Adult Child FMLA – letter and form to accompany health certification
  • Exhaustion of FMLA, paid leave accruals
  • FMLA overuse or pattern – letter and form
  • Notification to supervisor of FMLA approval/denial – email. Approval should only include information specific to approval/denial, duration/frequency of absence and payroll information. For multiple health conditions, number them for ease of supervisor tracking.
  • Return to work documentation if required – letter and form
  • Restricted Work Agreement – form
  • Return to Work Documentation

In certain situations, it may be appropriate to send an individualized letter, for example when a leave is also an accommodation and the employee is not available to sign the PDF iconInteractive Disability Accommodation Document (IDAD) (pdf), when leave needs overlap with performance management situations, or if the department is unable to accommodate a leave of absence. FSDS is available to review or assist in writing documentation for these situations.

Communication with a Treating Health Provider (THP)

Communication with a THP must be coordinated through the FSDS office and will always include a member of Faculty Staff Disability Services. It may be necessary for FSDS to speak with a healthcare provider for leave that overlaps with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For FMLA, communication with a THP is limited in scope, and will only occur infrequently.