Can You Use FMLA When You Go to Treatment?

Are you worried about taking leave at work when you go to treatment for a substance use disorder? You may be wondering if you can take advantage of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when you’re away from work. Many people have full-time jobs, and careers struggle with substance abuse disorders. That shouldn’t disqualify you from getting the help you need. In fact, many employers offer resources that can make it easier for you to get help for your problems.

Understanding FMLA

FMLA went into law in 1993, and courts and employers have since interpreted it in a variety of ways. The Family Medical Leave Act was created “to balance the demands of the workplace with the needs of families” – through the act, Americans in full-time positions could be guaranteed job security and access to their employer’s healthcare, even during a medical crisis or family emergency. Through the Act, employees can access up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave through the FMLA for a variety of reasons, including:

  • The employee or spouse gives birth (or adopts)
  • Caring for a terminally or seriously ill immediate family member, including your spouse, child or parent.
  • Caring for your health during a period of serious illness.

For those suffering from a substance use disorder, there are a lot of factors that may influence your recovery. It’s incredibly difficult to get clean on your own, while you’re working a full-time job. You didn’t become addicted overnight, and your recovery will also take some time, especially in the beginning.

Getting away from additional stressors outside of your job is often essential to beginning the recovery process. Your wife, kids, parents and other family members may mean well, but they’re not trained to help you with your recovery. A competent and caring treatment center can help you get on your way. Addiction is recognized as a disease of the brain, and people who seek treatment using the FMLA act are protected by disability laws, too.

12 weeks of medical leave can give you a considerable reprieve from the daily stressors of your life, allowing you to focus on your health and welfare. This means you can go to a full inpatient treatment program if that’s what you need to do to get on with your life, substance-free.

If you choose to use drugs or alcohol rather than pursue treatment, there could be legal repercussions. You probably won’t keep your job, and on top of that, you might end up on the hook for any other benefits you used to while away.

Going to Treatment and Keeping Your Job

The FMLA makes it possible for millions of Americans to attend to health needs without losing their job or health insurance. It’s important to remember that this leave is unpaid leave and plan accordingly. Your health insurance plan will often pay for the treatment itself, but you will still need to make arrangements for any bills you have to attend to as well as any copayments.

Are you interested in learning more about FMLA and your employer’s responsibilities? Read the Department of Labor’s brochure and contact your human resources department to learn more. There may be additional benefits that your company offers as well for people in recovery. You can speak to human resources to learn more.

If you want to start healing from your substance abuse problem, and you’re not sure where to start, give us a call at (877) 228-2401. We can help you navigate your benefits and create a plan for getting the help you need. All calls are 100% confidential.



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