FMLA Leave for Workers With Chronic Illness: Verifying Medical Treatment, Avoiding Abuse

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Recorded event now available

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Program Materials

This CLE webinar will guide counsel for employers on how to handle FMLA leave for workers with chronic illness. The panelists will discuss how to scrutinize the FMLA certification form completed by the employee's healthcare provider, as well as best practices for verifying continuing medical treatment.


Chronic illnesses are those lasting a year or more, and statistics indicate that a significant number of U.S. workers have at least one chronic ailment. Chronic illness presents unique challenges when managing the associated FMLA leave and employers must understand how to manage FMLA questions involving reduced-schedule or intermittent leave.

For a medical issue to qualify as a chronic condition under the FMLA, an employee must seek treatment from a healthcare provider at least two times per year; must continue over an extended period of time, including recurrent episodes of a single underlying condition; and can cause episodic rather than continuing period of incapacity, such as fibromyalgia, migraines, asthma, or diabetes.

When an employee takes medical leave, employers may assume that the employee is undergoing treatment by a healthcare provider; employers rarely scrutinize the frequency of doctor visits. However, when evaluating FMLA leave entitlements, verifying continuing medical treatment is worth the trouble, particularly since intermittent FMLA leave often raises concerns of how to avoid abuse.

Listen as our panel guides employment counsel on how to manage FMLA leave for workers with chronic illnesses. The panel will discuss how to analyze FMLA certification forms, request medical records, and protect against leave abuse without violating the FMLA.



  1. Overview of chronic illnesses under the FMLA
  2. Verifying continuing medical treatment for FMLA leave
  3. Analysis of recent court decisions regarding FMLA leave for chronic illnesses
  4. Best practices for employers in handling intermittent and reduced-schedule leave for chronic illnesses


The panel will review these and other relevant topics:

  • How is "chronic illness" defined under the FMLA?
  • What documentation must be provided by workers taking leave for a chronic illness?
  • Specific information the employer should look for if using forms from the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.
  • How do courts view the issue of FMLA leave for chronic illnesses?
  • How can employers protect against FMLA leave abuse by workers with chronic illness?


Atkins, Lisa
Lisa Karen Atkins

Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart

Ms. Atkins has over 20 years' experience defending employers ranging from public and private colleges,...  |  Read More

Morris, Frank
Frank C. Morris, Jr.

Epstein Becker & Green

Mr. Morris leads the firm’s Employment, Labor and Workforce Management Practice in the Washington, D.C., office,...  |  Read More

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