FMLA for Rehab - How Does It Work | Aid in Recovery
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FMLA for Rehab – How Does It Work


Overcoming addiction is a difficult thing. Not only are there psychological and medical struggles, but there are financial obstacles as well.

When faced with the decision to enter a rehab facility, many wonder if they will still have a job when they get out.
Well, fortunately, lawmakers in D.C. created the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) over 20 years ago to address this very problem. Read on to find out how the FMLA can protect you or a loved one during the struggle to overcome addiction.

How Do I Keep My Job When I Go To Rehab

The FMLA took effect in the United States on February 5th, 1993. Its function is to help balance workplace demands with medical needs of employees and their families. Under the FMLA, you are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a 12 month period for a serious health condition or to care for an immediate family member suffering from a serious health condition. FMLA can be used for substance abuse treatment provided by a health care provider or by a provider of health care services on referral by a health care provider. Absence because of the employee’s use of the substance, not for treatment, does not qualify for FMLA leave.

Cut Through the FMLA Red Tape

Of course, not everyone is eligible for the Family Medical Leave Act. To be eligible, you must have been employed by your current employer for at least 12 month, and worked at least 1250 hours in those 12 months. This translates to approximately 156 eight hour days. Your company also must be eligible to let you use this privilege, meaning it has to have at least 50 employees who work within 75 miles of its location. Also, some employers may make you use your paid leave first. Every state has different provisions, so it is best to discuss this with your HR department and a legal professional to find out what options are available to you.

FMLA Forms For Rehab

There are also certain processes that a person must go through to qualify for FMLA leave including obtaining certification. To apply, certain forms must be filled out including a WH 380F and a WH 380E. These forms must be signed by the treating doctor or health care provider. Employers may seek additional information concerning their employees’ condition, but they must comply with the laws in doing so.

FMLA for Rehab, Not Substance Abuse

Before applying for the FMLA, you should also be aware of what is classified as excusable absences under that act. Termination due to inappropriate behavior on the job site is not allowable, nor is absenteeism due to an addiction. For instance, there was an employee who missed work due to heavy drinking while waiting on his FMLA leave and he was terminated as a result. A legal case ensued but the employee was found at fault since the three days missed were not included as part of his leave.

Under FMLA once an employee returns to work after rehab, he or she must be restored to their original job or an equivalent job.
This means he will suffer no loss of pay or benefits and all terms of his previous employment will be honored, even if there is a change in position. If you had been entitled to any sort of bonus before the FMLA leave, that bonus will still be honored.

Shattering the Addiction Stigma

There is a stigma attached to addictions that make it difficult for employees to seek treatment. Sometimes it is even harder for them speak to their employers about treatment. However, while this is understandable, those who wish to seek treatment at a rehab facility should understand that addiction is classified as a disability, and is viewed as such in the eyes of the law. For these reasons, there should be a nondiscriminatory outlook on employees who seek treatment for addiction.

Don’t Let Money Hit the Breaks

Even though people seeking addiction treatment have comfort in the knowledge that there is job security during their medical leave for addiction, there is still the obstacle of financial hardship since the FMLA is an unpaid leave. However, there are solutions to this problem. For instance, under certain conditions, employers can choose to substitute accrued paid leave (such as sick or vacation leave) for FMLA leave while you are in rehab for your drug or alcohol addiction. If this is not an option for you, there may be funding through private or disability insurance available.

Make That Call

Addiction is tough, and making the commitment to get help is never easy. However, people seeking assistance for their addictions should consider FMLA leave and see what options are available to them. Thanks to FMLA leave, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for many addicts.

If you are considering entering rehab for your addiction, please call now. Our admissions coordinators will help you with all of the forms needed to help you qualify to use FMLA to get the addiction treatment you need.

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