health care provider completing a form

Paid Family Leave Information for Health Care Providers

Paid Family Leave Information for Health Care Providers
Paid Family Leave Information for Health Care Providers

Impact on Patient Health

Paid Family Leave can provide many health benefits for employees and their families. For example, studies have shown that:

  • new mothers who take paid leave have fewer postpartum depression symptoms as well as higher breastfeeding rates and longer duration of breastfeeding;
  • parents are less stressed and have stronger parent-child bonding;
  • infants have fewer infections and are generally healthier; and
  • hospitalized patients who are cared for by family members have shorter hospital stays and improved health outcomes. 

Your Role

Health care providers play a critical role in:

  • educating patients and their families about New York State Paid Family Leave;
  • determining if a patient with a serious health condition would benefit from family care and helping them receive the support they need;
  • providing the required certification or documentation to patients and family members who request Paid Family Leave for either bonding with a new child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition.


The following licensed Health Care Providers1 may complete necessary documentation for Paid Family Leave within their scope of practice:

  • Physician
  • Physician Assistant
  • Chiropractor
  • Dentist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Registered Professional Nurse
  • Podiatrist
  • Optometrist
  • Psychologist
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Midwife
  • Mental Health Practitioner
  • Speech-language Pathologists
  • Audiologists


Health care providers outside of New York, including outside the United States, who are certifying that an employee's request for Paid Family Leave is medically justified must have a valid license in the state or country where they practice.


Health care providers may refuse to sign the Health Care Provider Certification For Care Of Family Member With Serious Health Condition (PFL-4)
if they believe that the employee's family member does not have a serious health condition.

Bonding Leave

Patients can request Paid Family Leave and receive job-protected, paid time off to bond with a newly born, adopted, or fostered child. Paid Family Leave only begins after birth and is not available to patients for prenatal conditions. A parent may take Paid Family Leave during the first 12 months following the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child.

Certification for Birth

A parent whose name is listed on a child’s birth certificate can submit the birth certificate as documentation for bonding leave. However, since birth certificates typically are not available for some time after a child’s birth, a letter from a health care provider documenting qualifying information is also accepted. 

The letter, provided by the health care provider, certifies the birth of the newborn and must include:

  • the mother’s name;
  • the actual or expected date of the child’s birth;
  • the health care provider's name, address, phone number, and medical credentials (information on the letterhead is often sufficient)

Family Care Leave

Family members of your patients (care recipients) can request Paid Family Leave and receive job protected, paid time off to care for their loved one with a serious health condition. Caring for a family member can include necessary physical care, emotional support, visitation, assistance in treatment, transportation, arranging for a change in care, assistance with essential daily living matters and personal attendant services.


Qualifying Family Members

Employees who are eligible for Paid Family leave can take it to care for the following family members with a serious health condition:

  • spouse
  • domestic partner
  • child
  • stepchild
  • parent
  • stepparent
  • parent-in-law
  • grandparent
  • grandchild


Responsibilities in Family Care Certification

Health care providers protect the well-being of the patients they serve. Health care providers may refuse to supply a certification for family care when the family member (employee) requesting leave is the perpetrator of domestic violence or child abuse against the patient (care recipient).  

As a health care provider, you play a critical role when a patient’s family member (employee) requests Paid Family Leave to care for your patient. 

  • You must fully and completely answer your portion of the Health Care Provider Certification for Care of a Family Member with Serious Health Condition (Form PFL-4) in order for your patient’s family member to take Paid Family Leave to care for your patient. 
  • Employees must submit Form PFL-4 to their employer’s Paid Family Leave insurance carrier within 30 days of the start of their leave or risk losing Paid Family Leave benefits, so your timely completion of this form is crucial.

What is a Serious Health Condition?

A serious health condition is defined as an illness, injury, impairment, physical or mental condition requiring:

  • inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or inpatient/outpatient residential health facility; or
  • continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider.

Continuing treatment or supervision means one or more of the following:

  • A period of incapacity related to restorative surgery or treatment for a condition resulting in a period of incapacitation lasting more than three days in the absence of medical intervention
    • Examples include: Cancer (chemotherapy and radiation), severe arthritis (physical therapy), or kidney disease (dialysis).
  • A chronic, serious physical, or mental health condition that causes a period of incapacity
    • Examples include: Asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • A long-term or permanent incapacitating condition for which treatment may not be effective
    • Examples include: Alzheimer’s disease, severe stroke, or terminal stage of a disease.
  • An incapacitating condition lasting more than three days
    • Examples include: A course of prescription medication as a regimen of continuing treatment.

Note: This is the same standard for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Cosmetic treatments (such as plastic surgery) are not eligible conditions unless inpatient hospital care is required or complications develop. Ordinarily, unless complications arise, the common cold, the flu, ear aches, upset stomach, minor ulcers, headaches other than migraine, routine dental or orthodontia problems, periodontal disease, etc., are examples of conditions that do not meet the definition of a serious health condition and would not qualify for Paid Family Leave.

Educating Your Patients

To help raise awareness on Paid Family Leave, health care providers are encouraged to:

  • Speak with patients and their families about Paid Family Leave
  • Display posters and other materials in office settings. New York State has free 11 X 17 Paid Family Leave posters
  • Direct patients and their families to the Paid Family Leave website at or the Helpline: (844) 337-6303 for more information