Can I Use The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to go to Rehab?

Struggling with addiction is never easy, especially when you have to provide for your family and worry about losing your job. The stress of being the financial provider alone is enough to prevent you from attending professional treatment. If you are worried that attending rehab will get you fired from your job, there are legal protections in place that prevent you from losing your job when you seek help for a substance use disorder or any other serious health condition.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)  is one of these protective laws. If you qualify, you may be able to use FMLA to go to rehab and keep your job.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that was passed in 1993 under the Clinton administration. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons”.[1]

Additionally, you can keep your health insurance provided by your job while you take medical leave under this law so long as you continue paying your portion of your monthly premium.

If you are eligible for the FMLA, you can receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a variety of reasons that include:

  • The birth of your baby
  • Placement of an adopted or foster child in your home
  • Caring for a seriously ill immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent)
  • Caring for your health during a serious illness

It is important to note that if you use this law, you must notify your employer. Your employer must be provided with information about using FMLA, how you are qualified under the FMLA, and the amount of time your leave will be. If you do not notify your employer that you are taking leave, you won’t be guaranteed FMLA protections.

Who is Eligible for the FMLA?

If you are considering using FMLA to go to rehab, you must check to ensure your eligibility. Most people qualify for this law, but it is important to make sure before you start making any plans.

To be eligible for the FMLA, you must:

  • Work for a covered employer
  • Have worked for your employer for at least 12 months
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months before taking leave
  • Be employed by a company with at least 50 employees within 75 miles

If you are wondering what a covered employer is, most companies fall under this category. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a covered employer is a:[2]

  • Private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or preceding calendar year, including a joint employer or successor in interest to a covered employer;
  • Public agency, including a local, state, or Federal government agency, regardless of the number of employees it employs; or
  • Public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of employees it employs.

What Qualifies as a Serious Health Condition Under the FMLA?

Because the FMLA requires you to be suffering from a serious health condition to take leave, it is important to be aware of what that means. The term “serious health condition” is extremely broad, but thankfully it does include substance use disorders.

Examples of serious health conditions covered by the FMLA include the following:

  • Chronic back conditions
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Emphysema
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Pregnancy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Severe arthritis

The FMLA also includes mental health conditions as a “serious health condition”. Examples of some mental health disorders that would qualify for an FMLA leave include:

  • Memory disorders
  • Severe depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Severe bipolar disorder
  • Severe stress or anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Substance use disorder

Overall, the FMLA defines a serious health condition as a physical or mental health illness that prevents you from being able to perform the essential duties of your job. When it comes to mental health, your reason for taking leave must be something that requires you to attend residential inpatient treatment. Since substance use disorder impacts every aspect of your life, including your mental, physical, and social health, it often qualifies as a serious health condition, allowing you to attend treatment without the fear of losing your career.

Can I Still Get Fired for Going to Addiction Treatment Treatment?

If you are worried about being fired for using the FMLA to go to drug and alcohol rehab, do not stress. As long as you meet all of the qualifications and requirements, you cannot get fired for receiving addiction treatment.

However, if you miss work because of substance abuse or are found abusing drugs or alcohol while on the job, you can get fired. In other words, your job cannot be terminated if you are attending treatment, but if you are using drugs, you can be fired.

Company policies must also be considered. If you were found to be using drugs while on the job before taking FMLA leave, your job might be terminated due to drug-free work policies.

Attending a Professional Addiction Treatment Program

If you or a loved one require addiction treatment, you’ve come to the right place. At Arise Treatment Center, we work with our clients to ensure that everything is taken care of while they are attending treatment. This includes helping our clients with using the FMLA or inviting them to our luxury rehab for professionals that is uniquely tailored to meet the needs of working individuals.

Contact Arise Treatment Center today to speak with a qualified admissions coordinator about beginning treatment.




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