Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for Alcohol and Drug Rehab Guide

How FMLA for Rehab Can Protect Your Job While You Get Help

The Family And Medical Leave Act, also known as FMLA, is a federal law that allows women and men to take unpaid, job-protected time of absence for certain family and medical reasons. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. Employees may use FMLA to treat a serious medical condition that includes any form of SUD: drug abuse and alcoholism.1

Apart from FMLA, which is applicable nationwide, some states have their own protected leave laws that offer different sets of benefits. In states without comparable family leave laws, federal law applies. Under FMLA, employers nationwide are expected to follow state laws.2

Official FMLA statistics claim nearly 15 million workers across all states use this right to take time off from work every year for their health condition or to take care of a loved one.3

What Does FMLA Entail?

FMLA or the Family And Medical Leave Act was first introduced in 1993 when President Clinton was in office.4 The law was designed to help employees find a balance between their work and family obligations. It allows employees to take unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons while at the same time qualifying employers’ interests in promoting equal employment opportunities.1

Among other personal emergencies, people looking to deal with alcohol and drug addiction often rely on FMLA for rehab. Treating any form of addiction usually requires continual treatment at an inpatient facility.5 Employees looking to attend inpatient alcohol rehab centers alone or as part of couples’ recovery may do so under FMLA, to help ensure their employment status will remain unchanged following the required treatment period. In order to qualify for leave under the FMLA, employees need to disclose a medical professional’s referral.5

FMLA for mental health coverage & duration

Who Can Take FMLA Leave for Mental Health & Substance Abuse?

Employees can take care of their needs with leave if they have worked for the company for at least 12 months, and 1,250 hours over the last year. The employee should work at a company with at least 50 employees within 75 miles.1

Employers must provide employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for any of the following reasons:1

  • The birth or care of a newborn child
  • Child adoption or foster care of a minor placed in employee’s care within a year
  • Care of a close family member suffering from a severe health condition, if eligible
  • Taking medical leave when the person is unable to work due to a grave health condition and has to be hospitalized or admitted to an inpatient treatment facility

What Does FMLA Cover?

Based on the gravity of addiction and the duration of substance use, there are several different types of treatment that vary in length and concept:6

  • Inpatient treatment: for people who need round-the-clock care and supervision.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program or IOP: for people who don’t need as much care and supervision as inpatient treatment, but still need a higher level of care than what outpatient treatment can offer.
  • Partial Hospitalization Program or PHP: This program is similar to IOP, but patients struggling with addiction can expect hours of care per week, for a few hours every day.
  • Outpatient treatment programs are ideal for people who only need care a few hours a week in the form of therapy and counseling.
  • Sober living and halfway homes are a part of the aftercare program for people who have finished addiction treatment and need help staying sober by residing in a structured environment with other recovering patients and support groups.

What’s the Duration of FMLA Coverage?

The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take time off work for up to 12 weeks of leave per year, with the continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.1

Use of FMLA duration entitlement is calculated in full weeks. For example, an employee who is taking four weeks off will use two full FMLA entitlements.7

FMLA also covers intermittent leave in certain circumstances. There is no set policy on when employees may take FMLA to leave in increments other than full weeks.7

Intermittent leave may be authorized when medically necessary. This includes attending therapy sessions or taking prescribed medications. For example, an alcohol rehab center provides daily therapy sessions for patients with drug and/or alcohol addiction. An individual attending daily sessions would need FMLA to cover the non-work time during these appointments, as it would be considered medically necessary.7

FMLA leave cannot be carried over into the next year, meaning all 12 weeks must be used or they are lost.8

Employers may require medical certification for the serious health condition and/or its recurrence. If so, employees must provide it within 15 calendar days of the employer’s request.8

Will I Receive My Salary During My Leave Under FMLA for Alcohol r Drug Rehab?

Under FMLA, employees are entitled to 12 months of unpaid leave, meaning you will not be compensated for the time away under FMLA. However, employees are still entitled to their workers’ healthcare insurance under the same terms and conditions. Furthermore, employees may resume their work immediately following FMLA leave.9

Rehabilitation may be a costly process, but many centers rendering addiction treatment services offer adjustable payment plans. Insurance may cover some or all of the rehab costs, based on the level of care and treatment length, while the remaining amount can often be financed privately.10

Is Mental Health Treatment Covered Under FMLA?

FMLA covers some forms of mental health care in order to address issues that prevent the employee from performing essential job functions. Mental health conditions that are covered by FMLA include bipolar disorder, major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, severe anxiety, and other severe mental health conditions.9

FMLA Rules & Other Rights of Employees Suffering From Substance Abuse

The FMLA act prevents the employer from taking any form of action or terminating the employee taking leave in order to seek alcohol and drug treatment. FMLA ensures the employee can go back to work without repercussions following their treatment.5

Nonetheless, if substance use is against the employer’s policy, the employer is within their rights to lay off the employee in violation of that rule, even if they are in treatment under FMLA.5

Employees are also protected under the ADA, a law that prevents discrimination against disabled persons and provides protection for employees with disabilities. In addition to protection in employment, public accommodation, and transportation it may also include government-funded treatment services and programs.11

How Can You Discuss Your Addiction With Your Employer?

Before reaching out to their employers, employees should first get to know their rights under the FMLA and ADA legislation. These acts protect individuals during their treatment for addiction.10,11

When an employee is ready to discuss addiction treatment with their employer, they should be prepared to briefly summarize their medical issues and the reason for seeking addiction treatment. They should also share information on the type of treatment they will be receiving and the length of their treatment.8

When employees require an FMLA leave, they must provide at least 30 days advance notice when such notice is practicable and foreseeable. The notice must be given at least as soon as possible in cases of emergency, such as same-day admissions. Generally, employees must provide notice either the same day or the next business day.8

Patients who know they’re able to seek addiction treatment with no repercussions, have strong support, and a workplace to come back to following rehab have a better chance of a positive outcome following rehabilitation.6

How Much Does Rehab Cost & Last Under FMLA?

The cost and length of an addiction treatment program may vary based on the substance used, the length and pattern of use, and the likelihood of relapsing. Individuals who have struggled with SUD for a long time or have used multiple substances may need long-term rehabilitation to achieve lasting recovery.6

Therefore, the cost of rehab will depend on how long the patient needs active treatment, the level of care received, whether any additional, luxe amenities are included in their plan, and the range of services included during their recovery.6

Each patient will receive an individualized treatment program based on their unique needs. The rate at which the patient progresses through the treatment will affect the duration, with those more likely to relapse requiring long-term inpatient care and treatment assistance. In general, recovery programs can be divided into four groups:6

  • Detox treatment lasting 3, 5, or 7 days
  • 28-30-day programs
  • 60-90-day programs
  • 90-120-day programs

How Can I Get Back to Work After Leaving for Substance Abuse Rehab Under FMLA?

After completing a period of FMLA leave, the employee can go to work and resume their job duties. Before returning to the workplace after treatment, employees should be aware of what rights they have under FMLA legislation.5

The employer has the right to ask the returning employee to abstain from any substances, save for medications prescribed by the doctor. Furthermore, the employer may require the employee to take regular drug tests.5

While employees are on leave for addiction treatment, they are entitled to return to the same position or be assigned to a similar position with the same benefits and salary.9

What Is the Process for Applying for an FMLA Leave?

Employers are responsible for notifying their employees of their FMLA responsibilities and rights. If an employee requests leave for a qualifying reason, the employer must determine whether the leave is protected by the FMLA and inform employees what period will be counted against their FMLA rights.9

If you need to take time off for drug rehab, you have to let your employer know with due notice. You typically don’t have to provide your medical records, but your employer may ask for a Medical certification form issued by a medical practitioner to justify the leave.10

Where Can I Find Evidence-Based Drug & Alcohol Rehab Near Me?

There are a few ways to get treatment for addiction while still being able to work. FMLA can cover most forms of addiction treatment, including staying at an inpatient rehab facility or attending regular sessions under an outpatient treatment program.6

Some patients may even choose to seek treatment out of state if an inpatient facility is better suited to cater to their condition or offers additional amenities, such as faith-based rehab programs. This can be an expensive alternative, but if it is necessary to ensure the patient’s long-term recovery, taking an FMLA leave can help them keep their job following treatment.6

Following an evaluation and admission, patients will receive a tailored recovery plan based on their intake assessment, whether it involves a recommendation for inpatient or outpatient treatment.6 You can get more information about various treatment options by calling one of numerous substance abuse hotlines such as the one held by American Addiction Centers.The staff at AAC will help you find the nearest suitable facility, offer you various payment options, and check if your insurance provider will cover the cost of treatment via a phone call. Don’t hesitate to reach our and share any information necessary since conversations are completely private and confidential.