Axiom’s Real-Time HR series features real questions that are answered by qualified HR experts in the field. We publish them for the benefit of our readers, so they can learn from current, trending HR topics.
How do we handle leave paperwork when the employee needing leave is incapacitated or unable to be reached directly?
Answer from Margaret, PHR, SHRM-CP:
In the event you’re made aware that an employee needs medical leave, but the employee is not available for direct contact due to inpatient care in a facility or incapacitation, send the applicable leave paperwork to the employee’s address on file. The employee may have someone who can get the paperwork from their home address to them or their health care provider—this is one of the most reliable methods of delivery to prove that you’ve met your compliance obligations.
It’s possible you’ll hear from a case manager, family member, or emergency contact who reaches out to you on the employee’s behalf. In such a situation, you could also send the paperwork to the employee at the facility they’re in.
Whatever the case, address the paperwork and any other correspondence to the employee directly, and don’t release the employee’s confidential information unless you have direct authorization from them.
Margaret holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Portland State University and a Professional Certificate in Human Resources Management. She has worked in a variety of HR roles in a multi-state capacity. Margaret regularly attends seminars and other continuing education courses to stay current with new developments and changes that affect the workplace and is active in local and national Human Resources organizations.
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