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What documentation is required when an employee requests FMLA leave to bond with a newborn or to adopt or foster a child?

Employers are not permitted to request a medical certification from an employee requesting time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to bond with a healthy newborn child or a child placed for adoption or foster care because there is no medical necessity required for this type of leave.

However, employers may request documentation to confirm the family relationship when an employee requests FMLA bonding leave. In circumstances where a female employee takes leave for pregnancy and delivery of her child, documentation is likely unnecessary since it is obvious the mother is eligible for FMLA leave to bond with her newborn child. In other circumstances, employers may want to document the family relationship. According to the U.S. Department of Labor:

"An employer may, but is not required to, request that an employee provide reasonable documentation of the qualifying family relationship. An employee may satisfy this requirement by providing either a simple statement asserting that the requisite family relationship exists, or other documentation such as a child's birth certificate or a court document. It is the employee's choice whether to provide a simple statement or other documentation. Employers may not use a request for confirmation of a family relationship in a manner that interferes with an employee's exercise or attempt to exercise his or her FMLA rights."

FMLA leave to bond with a newborn or newly adopted or fostered child must be taken within one year of the child's birth or placement for adoption or foster care. Employers may ask for documentation of the child's date of birth or placement date when necessary to determine eligibility for bonding leave.

Eligible employees may also request FMLA leave if an absence from work is required prior to the placement for adoption or foster care. For example, the employee may be required to attend counseling sessions, appear in court, consult with his or her attorney or the doctor(s) representing the birth parent, submit to a physical examination, or travel to another country to complete an adoption. Employers may request documentation of the need for such absences.

An employer should always check family and medical leave laws in the states where it operates because the FMLA does not replace a state law that is more beneficial to the employee. 


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