Handling Family Emergencies at Work: Proof and Protocols

Happy woman embracing he mature father who is recovering at hospital ward and talking to a doctor.

Family emergencies require immediate attention due to serious illness, injury, or a loved one’s death.

Learn how to prove your need for time off in this guide on ‘Providing Proof of Family Emergencies for Work.

Death in the Family


The death of a family member is a highly traumatic event. If you need time off to cope with it, provide your employer with proof. You can use:

  • Death certificate
  • Funeral or memorial service program
  • Obituary notice
  • Letter from a clergy member or funeral director

To request time off, inform your employer as soon as possible and provide the necessary documentation. If FMLA covers you, submit a formal leave request through HR.”

Medical Emergency

Doctor explaining to patient

A medical emergency is an unexpected event requiring immediate medical attention for you or a family member.

To request time off, inform your employer promptly and provide proof. You can use

Types of Documentation for a Medical Emergency

Closeup of woman hands writing medicine inventory. Close up hands of female doctor writing the medicines to be taken on the preoperative model sheet. Pharmacist checking inventory at hospital pharmacy.
  • Doctor’s note
  • Hospital discharge papers
  • Prescription or medication list
  • Medical test results

If FMLA covers you, submit a formal leave request through HR.

Employer’s Perspective

I just have a few more questions for you...

From an employer’s viewpoint, managing employee absences due to family emergencies can be challenging.

However, employers must provide reasonable time off in such cases. They may have these questions

Can employers request proof of a family emergency?

Yes, but they must respect employees’ privacy and confidentiality, only requesting necessary and relevant information.

What happens if family emergency excuses are misused?

Misuse can lead to disciplinary action, termination, or loss of trust.

Employees should use family emergency leave when genuinely needed and follow proper procedures.

Employee’s Rights

Employees Rights on an office table.

Employees have rights under FMLA to take time off for family emergencies without fear of harm.

Here are tips for effectively exercising these rights

  • Understand your FMLA rights.
  • When informing your employer about a family emergency, be respectful, professional, and empathetic. Clearly explain the situation and provide the necessary documentation. Offer to make arrangements to cover your responsibilities during your absence. Keep your employer informed of any updates or changes.”

By Anita Brown

Anita Brown is our go-to contributor to our emergency preparedness website. Anita brings a wealth of personal experience and professional expertise to the table, having weathered several awful natural disasters. Anita is currently working towards obtaining her Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) certification.