Does FMLA cover substance abuse treatment?
Alcohol addiction is a severe medical condition that affects around 15 million Americas annually. Addiction is a complicated, severe disorder that can negatively affect mental, physical, and emotional health. Due to the severity of addiction, employees seeking addiction treatment are entirely protected from any form of job loss under the FMLA. Unfortunately, the family and medical leave act (FMLA) differs in the type of coverage for qualified individuals, so please make sure you are completely covered before taking a medical break.
So, what is FMLA? FMLA refers to The Family and Medical Leave Act, which refers to the federal law that offers employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year in the event of medical emergencies. This unpaid leave does not cause any threat of job loss as it would be a complete violation of The Family and Medical Leave Act. A company cannot under any circumstance fire an employee due to medical conditions.
If you or a loved one is thinking about taking time out to treat your addiction, you can think of The Family and Medical Leave Act as a layer of protection that will protect you if:
- You have a child
- Cannot work due to a severe medical condition
- Cannot work due to an immediate family emergency
- Have another qualifying difficulty, for example, military service
The Family and Medical Leave Act cover every employee working for a public agency. For individuals who work in the private sector, businesses that have employed 50 or more employees during the current or previous year also qualify for FMLA.
FMLA and Alcohol Addiction
Alcoholism is referred to as a severe medical condition under the guidelines of the FMLA; however, the employee must pass a set of standards set forth by the Department of Labor to qualify for Family and Medical Leave. These standards are as follows:
- For purposes of FMLA, a serious health condition entitling an employee to FMLA leave means an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental disease that involves inpatient care as defined in § 825.114 or continuing treatment by a health care provider as defined in § 825.115.
At the same time, the individual considered incapacitated by substance abuse may further qualify for protection under FMLA. Below, the FMLA defines ‘incapacity’ as:
- An inability to work, attend a school, or perform other regular daily activities due to the severe health condition, treatment, therefore, or recovery therefrom.
How do I apply for FMLA leave?
We recommend that you place a request for FMLA leave with your current employer at least 30 days before you plan to take the leave. There will be situations where this isn’t possible, but we would always advise that you give your employer as must notice as possible. You will additionally need to provide substantial evidence that your reason for taking leave makes you eligible under the FMLA. Your employer is required to either approve or deny your request for FMLA within five working business days.
Furthermore, your employer may ask you for a medical certification in which you have a maximum of 15 calendar days to turn it in. Your employer can demand further medical evidence at the expense of the original certificate that does not seem valid to them.
If there are any changes during your medical leave, such as being discharged from rehab early and being able to return to work, you must notify your employer. Additionally, if you need to extend your medical leave, you may need to provide additional medical certification.
Returning to work after FMLA leave for addiction?
When an individual uses The Family and Medical Leave Act, their current employer must return them to their original job once they have returned to work. It does not have to be the exact positive; however, it must be within the same field and have similar duties. The salary must be identical to what it was before the individual left.
Once your Family and Medical Leave Act has been approved, you will also set your return date. If circumstances require you to adapt the date, you must first ask your employer and have them sign it off.
Communication is vital in situations like this to ensure you have the right amount of time to heal from your addiction and still keep your job without worrying that you may lose it after coming out of treatment.
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