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Navigating FMLA for Alcohol Rehab

Alcohol addiction is a complex condition that can affect anyone. Alcohol use disorder is one of the most common types of substance disorders in the United States. Unfortunately, because of the commercialization of the substance, most people never receive treatment. There are so many resources available to those who struggle with alcohol addiction, including, The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Here is how you can use FMLA to your advantage to ensure you get everything you need to recover from alcohol use.

What Is FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law put in place by the US government in 1993. This act provides eligible employees of covered employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specified medical reasons.

Under the FMLA, employees’ jobs are protected for the time they are away. When they return to work, they are placed back into their position or in a similar one. Traditionally this form of leave is used to care for a family member with a serious health condition or if a company does not offer adequate maternity and paternity leave. However, this leave is also available to those in need of drug and alcohol rehab.

FMLA Eligibility

Not every employer offers FMLA. When considering this program, it is important that you speak with your employer and ensure that your company qualifies. According to the Department of Labor, the Family and Medical Leave Act applies to all local education agencies, public agencies, and private sector employers with at least 50 employees working 20 or more weeks in a calendar year.

If the following applies to you, you will likely be covered by FMLA:

  • You work for a qualifying employer
  • You have worked for this company for at least 12 months
  • You have worked at least 1250 hours during the 12 months

If you plan on receiving treatment for alcohol use, speak with your human resources representative to ensure that both you and your employer qualify for this program.

Do You Get Paid While on Leave?

While FMLA will secure your job until you return to work, time taken off is unpaid. Your employment status will remain active during your time away, and your employer is required to maintain your existing health benefits. However, it is up to the individual in treatment to find another way to supplement their income.

Is Alcohol Rehab Covered Under FMLA?

Eligibility for FMLA varies depending on the employer, the reason for leave, and personal eligibility. However, alcohol addiction is considered a serious health condition under FMLA and, therefore, qualifies for treatment. If your substance use disorder requires medical treatment or inpatient care, it is considered a serious health condition.

Alcoholism is considered a serious health condition because of the effects it could have on your mind and body. As it progresses, alcohol use disorder can create lasting changes to the brain and bodily systems.

As mentioned before, an employee’s job is protected under FMLA while they receive treatment. However, this law does not protect you from disciplinary action or termination if your alcohol use has violated any workplace policies. While you do need to disclose to your employer and provide documentation, there is no legal obligation to share the specific condition you will be treated for.

While you cannot lose your job because you have taken FMLA to get treatment, you can lose your job if you have violated your company’s policies against substance use. To protect your job, try to avoid specifying your reason for treatment. Additionally, be careful not to admit to any violations of company policy during the application process.

It is extremely important to note that an individual cannot take leave simply because they have an alcohol problem. FMLA is only eligible for those receiving treatment.

How to Apply for FMLA When Going to Rehab?

The application process may vary from one employer to another. Some employers may require more documentation than others. However, applying for FMLA generally involves the same processes. This includes the following steps.

  • Get medical certifications from your physicians in case your job needs it. Remember, sharing the specifics of your condition with an employer is not recommended.
  • Give your employer notice of your intent to apply for FMLA at least 30 days before the beginning of your treatment.
  • Gather all required documents from your company’s human resources department.
  • Fill out all necessary forms along with any additional information.

Alternatives to FMLA

It is understandable that you may not want to go through this process and risk losing your job. You might also want to find alternatives that will guarantee that your bills get paid. Here are some other options that you may want to look into.

Short-term Disability

Short-term disability insurance is a form of government assistance that can help you receive a part of your wages during recovery. While you may qualify for short-term disability, it will not protect your job the same way that FMLA does.

Vacation or Paid Time Off (PTO)

If you have accrued vacation time or paid time off (PTO), you may be able to use this to cover the duration of your treatment. It is essential to note that depending on your employer, it is not guaranteed that this time will be approved.

Get Treatment for Alcoholism at Inner Voyage Recovery Center

At Inner Voyage Recovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia, we offer the best treatment for everyone who walks through our doors. Learning to navigate FMLA is tedious and can become overwhelming. That is why we are here to help. We know that understanding this complex system can be difficult. This is why we offer resources and support to our clients. Don’t allow alcohol to take control of your life. Begin treatment today. Inner Voyage Recovery Center is here to provide the best treatment programs to residents of Atlanta and its surrounding areas. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, contact us at Inner Voyage Recovery Center to begin taking back control.

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