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08.24.2018

How Does FMLA Work While You are in Drug Rehab?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 was established to help protect employees who were facing certain medical and family issues that may require extended time away from their job. Most commonly associated with maternity leave, this federal law gives certain protected employees the ability to take up to 12 weeks off in a single year for qualifying medical or family reasons.

Not everyone is included in the protection of the FMLA and there are other things that you should know even if you are given this time off. In addition, there are further restrictions placed on people who are using the leave for rehab including restrictions that may be placed on them when they return to work.

Qualifying for FMLA for Rehab

Certain employees are automatically covered by this leave. These include government employees at all levels (local, state and federal) as well as teachers and other school employees. To qualify for the leave otherwise you must:

  • Be an employee at the same company for more than 1 year
  • Have worked at least 1250 hours in that time period
  • You must work in a company that has at least 50 employees either in 1 location or within 75 miles of each location

If you are giving an extended notice for the time off, you do not have to give an exact reason for the request. However, if you are suddenly faced with the need for rehab or have been court ordered to go unexpectedly, you may have to reveal that fact to your employer. At this time the employer may be able to deny the leave based on inadequate notice meaning that you would be forced to take time off without the protection of the leave. You will probably lose your job in this situation.

While You are On Leave

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will receive any pay while you are on leave regardless of why you are there. If you have been a long-time employee and have vacation and sick days saved up, you can use those days during the early part of your rehab. In some cases you may qualify for temporary disability payments during your treatment. This typically gives you a portion of your usual paycheck while you are not working. There may be restrictions and time limits on this pay and it will be substantially less than your regular pay. In some companies you will get descending amounts until you either return or the disability payment ends.

When You Return from Rehab

In some companies you may come back to new policies. You may need to take random or recurring drug tests usually at your own expense. Additional restrictions and limits may also be placed on you. These may be temporary, for instance for a 3 month probationary period. You may also be brought back in a different job with a different title but equal pays after your leave has ended.

These restrictions may not be put in place if you didn’t give full details of your leave when you requested it.

Caring for a Loved One in Rehab

If you are not the one that needs a treatment center you may still qualify for family leave since it was designed to be used to care for family members. The difference here is that drug testing and other restrictions cannot be placed on an employee who is returning from caring for a family member with an addiction. Again, if you are giving adequate time before the leave starts you do not have to provide full details as to why the time is needed. Even the best and most caring employer can become a different person if the problem is with drugs and alcohol.

Additional Protections Under the FMLA Law

While employee/employer handbooks can explain policies somewhat there are times when conflicts will arise. These disputes can sometimes lead to legal battles where you may have to fight to get your job back or to get the leave that you are qualified for. Other laws that may protect you include the Americans with Disabilities Act and some discrimination laws.

Be sure that you have read the handbook before making claims as some employers can disallow certain conditions (including addiction treatment) from their leave act. As long as it is company wide and equally enforced it is allowable.

If you are ready to start your treatment, you can do so today. Reach out to our counselors at 800-737-0933 today.

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