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Inquiring about Medical Condition

If an employee is in the hospital is it ok for an employer to ask what is wrong, not in a demanding way but just in a concerned way? We’re also concerned for the residents under the care of said person. Can we just ask about it?

There are a few laws applicable to this situation including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and state laws regarding general privacy.

Generally, an employer shouldn’t require employees to disclose their medical conditions for short term absences like a sick day. However, there may be situations that warrant such disclosure like a contagious illness or if a client’s safety may be in jeopardy.

For longer absences, the employer has a right to know when the employee is expected to return to work and if the employee will return able to perform his full duties or if modifications are needed.

It’s advisable to have a casual conversation with the employee. Ask how he’s feeling, when he’s returning to work, and any work adjustments he may need. Inquire about how he feels about returning to work specifically in dealing with his clients. If you still feel uncomfortable regarding his safety, his coworkers’ safety, or his clients’ safety then inform him that you will need a medical clearance from his doctor allowing him to return to work. Some employers require the doctor to actually sign off on the employee’s job description to ensure the doctor is fully aware of the employee’s work responsibilities prior to releasing him to full duty. However, the need for this depends on the nature of the employee’s work.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 20th, 2015 at 8:13 pm and is filed under
Labor Laws, Workplace Health & Safety, Workplace Management.
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