Family Medical Leave Act

If you’re worried that going to rehab for your addiction will affect your employment status, you’re not alone. Fear of losing their job is one of the most commonly cited reasons for not seeking addiction and substance abuse treatment. But there is hope. Medical leave for addiction and substance abuse treatment is covered by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law protects qualifying employees under certain circumstances, prohibiting employers from terminating their employment or health insurance due to a medical issue that requires extended leave.

Thanks to FMLA, individuals suffering from addiction and wishing to recover can rest assured that their employment status will remain unchanged while they seek inpatient rehab and other addiction treatment services. With this peace of mind, it’s possible to focus on recovery.

How does FMLA protect employees?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is designed to protect employees’ health and well-being by securing their employment and health insurance when they need extended medical leave. FMLA requires employers to give qualifying employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave, though some companies offer paid FMLA as an additional benefit. This leave can be used under certain circumstances such as when an employee needs to recover from illness or requires prolonged medical treatment.

If you’re nervous about discussing your substance abuse issues with your employer, worry not. Employees don’t need to disclose the specific illness when requesting leave through FMLA as long as it’s an FMLA-covered condition. FMLA secures your employment and insurance in the journey to overcome addiction.

Who qualifies for FMLA?

FMLA covers all local, state, or federal government employees whether you work at a large federal organization or provide a public service locally such as teaching at a public school. Individuals who work for private organizations only qualify if they:

  • Work more than 20 hours a week (part-time)
  • Have been with the current employer for at least a year
  • Are employed by a company that has more than 50 employees at their location or within 75 miles

When can I take FMLA?

Qualifying employees can file for FMLA if they:

  • Have a serious health condition that prevents them from working
  • Care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • Just gave birth or adopted a child
  • Have a family member deployed in the Armed Forces
  • Care for a sick or injured veteran or service member

Filing for FMLA

FMLA can provide those who need rehabilitation services a safety net so their employment and health insurance will be guaranteed through the duration of treatment. In cases where more than the legally required 12 weeks is needed for leave, you may be able to take unused PTO or vacation time in conjunction with FMLA to cover rehab.

To file for FMLA, employees can access the applicable form from the United States Department of Labor or directly from their employer. Addiction is considered a serious medical illness so the correct form for FMLA certification is the WH-380-E form. The form has different sections that must be filled out by the applicant, their employer, and their healthcare provider. After an employee submits a leave request, their employer must confirm their FMLA eligibility within five days.

If you need help navigating FMLA requirements, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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