Family Medical Leave Act

One of the biggest hurdles to recovery from addiction is the fear that seeking treatment will impact your employment status. However, as a serious medical illness that could be potentially life-threatening, addiction is covered for extended medical leave provided under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law covers employees under certain circumstances and prevents employers from terminating their employment or insurance because of extended medical leave.

Like other covered conditions including pregnancy and chronic illness, addiction treatment is protected under FMLA, allowing you to undergo potentially life-saving rehabilitation with peace of mind.

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FMLA: What it is and how to use it

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that protects employees’ employment and health insurance while they take leave for medical reasons. Under FMLA, employers are required to provide employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave, though some may opt to pay all or part of that time off. This time can be used to seek medical treatment or care for a sick or disabled family member.

There may be stigma associated with substance abuse, but you can breathe easy as your specific illness does not need to be disclosed when filing for FMLA. By securing your employment and health insurance during rehabilitation, FMLA can be an invaluable tool to help you overcome addiction.

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Who does FMLA cover?

All employees of local, state, or federal government agencies and offices, including public school employees, are eligible for medical leave under FMLA. To qualify for FMLA as an employee of a private company, you must:

  • Work at least 20 hours per week
  • Have been employed at your company for at least a year
  • Work for a company with more than 50 employees at your location or within 75 miles of you
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Under what circumstances can I take FMLA?

You qualify for FMLA leave if:

  • You are suffering from a serious health condition that prevents you from working
  • You care for a family member with a serious health condition
  • You recently became a parent either through natural childbirth or adoption
  • An immediate family member is deployed in the Armed Forces
  • You care for a sick or injured veteran or service member
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Applying for FMLA

Through FMLA, individuals struggling with addiction can seek treatment while ensuring their existing employment and health insurance will be waiting at the end of treatment. In addition to the 12 weeks of medical leave that your employer is legally required to provide, you may be able to combine FMLA leave with PTO or vacation and sick time if necessary to cover inpatient rehab.

Applying for FMLA is simple, and your employer can help you with the process. The relevant forms are available on the United States Department of Labor website or directly from your employer. Addiction treatment falls under the scope of serious medical illness and would be certified using the WH-380-E form. The form is divided into sections that must be filled out by you, your employer, and your healthcare provider. After you submit your leave request, your employer has five days to confirm or deny eligibility.

Unsure about FMLA requirements? Contact us today to find out more about how FMLA can help you on your recovery journey.

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