How The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Can Support Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol addiction is one of the most common forms of addiction in the country. While most of us think that alcoholics are typically people who are depressed and don’t have jobs, this isn’t true. Most of those battling alcoholism or addiction to alcohol are people who are employed, whether full-time or part-time. Some are functional alcoholics who can still run their lives very well, despite being alcoholics. Others, unfortunately, have serious alcohol addiction that is progressively ruining their lives including their jobs.

There are several dangers to using alcohol in the workplace. For starters, depending on your job, going to work while under the influence of alcohol can put you or your workmates in danger. This is especially true if you operate heavy machinery or work with dangerous substances. Additionally, you may be losing your employer valuable time and money in low productivity or absenteeism.

One of the barriers to seeking alcohol addiction treatment is the fear of losing one’s job. A lot of those who are struggling with addiction while holding down jobs are afraid to seek help because they’re afraid that taking extended time off work could result in losing their jobs. Ironically, not seeking treatment for alcohol addiction places you at a greater risk of losing your job, especially if your employer has issued several warnings already.

The good news is that if you have an addiction of some sort and want to seek treatment, your job is protected under the Family Medical Leave Act.

The Family Medical Leave Act

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a law that was passed in January 1993. This law aimed to provide Americans with job stability as well as access to employer-provided healthcare when going through family or personal health crises. This was meant to balance the demands of the workplace with families’ needs.

Under the FMLA, you can be eligible for up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave annually for certain qualifying reasons. During these 12 weeks, you’ll still have access to health insurance and medical benefits from your employer.

Qualifying reasons to be eligible for leave under FMLA include:

  1. The birth of a baby or taking care of a newborn within the first year of birth.
  2. To care for a severely ill immediate family member e.g. a child or spouse
  3. If an adoptive or foster child has been placed in your care, you can take leave during their first year of placement with your family.
  4. Caring for your own health in case of serious illness that affects your ability to perform the tasks and basic functions of your job.

Is Alcohol Addiction Treatment Covered Under the FMLA?

You may be wondering whether alcohol addiction is classified as a serious illness under FMLA. The answer is, yes. Addiction qualifies as a serious illness and is described as a complex disease that affects an individual emotionally, mentally, and physically. Because of this, your job is protected under the FMLA if you want to use your medical leave to seek addiction treatment. You can use those 12 weeks to check yourself into rehab and start the tough but rewarding journey towards recovery.

Keep in mind that you just can’t skip work for days because of your alcohol abuse and claim leave under FMLA. Your absence from work needs to be due to substance abuse treatment provided by a healthcare provider and you have to notify your employer of your intention to take this leave. Otherwise, you’ll be seen to have absconded work and may face disciplinary action for it. Also, remember that your employer may have a zero-tolerance policy towards drug and alcohol use in the workplace. If this is the case, the FMLA won’t protect you from disciplinary action or termination.

Eligibility Criteria for FMLA Medical Leave

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, it’s important to receive early intervention with the appropriate treatment. This makes the medical leave from FMLA a godsend. You are eligible for this leave if:

  • You are employed by a covered employer.
  • You have worked for this employer for at least 12 months (non-consecutively).
  • You have clocked at least 1,250 hours of work in the 12 months preceding your medical leave.
  • You work in a location where your employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.

You may be wondering who a “covered employer” is and if yours is one of them. According to the U.S Department of Labor, a covered employer is:

  • Any federal, state, or local government agency
  • Any public or private elementary or secondary school
  • Any private-sector employer who has 50 or more employees working 20 or more weeks each year

Now that you know whether your employer is covered and if you’re eligible for medical leave under the FMLA, you can make the important decision to seek treatment before it’s too late.

Depending on the severity of your addiction, you may need to go for detox. Detox may last anywhere from a few days to weeks and this may add to the length of your stay in rehab. After detox, you can then proceed with the rest of your treatment plan. The type of addiction treatment program you enroll in will again depend on the severity of your addiction as well as your individual recovery needs.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Louisville Kentucky

If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, help is available. At Impact IOP- Louisville Addiction Treatment Center in Kentucky, we provide intensive outpatient addiction treatment programs to help people just like you to get their lives back on track.

You don’t have to allow alcohol to ruin your life and you don’t have to wait until you lose your job to take things seriously. The earlier you act, the better it is for you. With our intensive outpatient program, you can beat alcohol addiction, save your job and rebuild your life. All you have to do is reach out to us today. We’ll be glad to help you.

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