The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides job security for 12 weeks during medical or caregiver leave, whether you have an illness or injury, are caring for a family member who is sick or injured, or are caring for a newborn baby or adopted/foster child. For the purposes of FMLA, substance abuse is considered a serious medical issue, which means that under this law you may be able to take time off to go to rehab without losing your job.
Certain factors determine whether you are eligible for FMLA coverage. You must:
-Work for an employer covered under FMLA laws. This includes any private employer with at least 50 full-time employees within 75 miles; any government agency; or any public or private K-12 school.
-Have worked for a covered employer for at least 12 months.
-Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months.
If you meet these requirements, the next step is to request FMLA coverage so that you can attend substance abuse treatment. Although FMLA protects your job for 12 weeks, this leave is unpaid unless your employer opts to pay you for time off. In most cases, you’ll need to give your workplace at least 30 days advance notice of your leave.
Although you may want to tell your employer about the medical reason for taking leave, you are not legally required to do so. After you request FMLA leave in writing, your employer must respond to the request within five business days. Your employer can legally request certification of the need for leave from your medical provider, which you must provide within 15 days if requested. However, this also does not need to detail the exact reason for your leave. Keep in mind that it is illegal for your employer to terminate you if you request FMLA leave to treat a substance abuse issue.
To qualify for FMLA leave, substance abuse treatment must be recommended and/or provided by a qualified health care practitioner. If your loved one is attending substance abuse treatment and needs care, you may also qualify for FMLA leave for this purpose if you work for an eligible employer.
Call us at 800-737-0933 if you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse. Our counselors are available 24 hours a day.