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

Drug addiction in the workplace often translates to performance and attendance issues that often result in a huge financial burden for employers. Employees who are struggling with drug addiction often have poor concentration at work leading to impaired job performance that may even threaten the safety of their colleagues. Additionally, they may often skip work, or if they do attend, have low productivity or poor decision making that affects the quality of the work they do.

If you are struggling with substance abuse and holding down a job, you are no doubt worried about keeping it. In fact, the fear of losing one’s job is one of the most common barriers to receiving addiction treatment. You know that you need proper treatment to kick your addiction and get better, but you’re worried about taking time off from work. You’re hesitant to bring up the issues with your employer because you’re afraid you’ll lose your job once they find out about your struggle with addiction.

However, deciding to seek help for drug addiction is commendable. It means that you’ve accepted that you have a problem and are ready to begin dealing with it to turn your life around. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about losing your job while you seek addiction treatment. Some laws protect your job in such instances, one of which is the Family Medical Leave Act.

What does the Family Medical Leave Act Entail?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers your right to unpaid, job-protected leave for specific health reasons. This law gives employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12 month period. During this leave, you will still have access to the health benefits provided by your employer. The main aim of this law is to protect the rights of employees to take reasonable leave from work to deal with family or personal health-related issues.

You can take this medical leave for the following reasons:

  • To take care of a newborn baby.
  • To take care of yourself during a serious illness.
  • To care for a foster or adoptive child who has been placed in your care.
  • To care for a seriously ill immediate family member including a child, parent, or spouse.

The FMLA and Drug Addiction Treatment

Thanks to the FMLA, you can take up to 12 weeks off from work to receive drug addiction treatment. This is because addiction is recognized as a disease like any other and it has adverse effects on your mental, physical and emotional health. The time off from work can be used constructively to join rehab, find a suitable addiction treatment program, and get started on your journey to recovery.

Depending on how serious your addiction is, you may have to go for detox first. This involves getting rid of the toxins in your body, making it possible for you to concentrate on your drug addiction treatment program.

Before going on medical leave under the FMLA, you need to understand that:

  • This will be unpaid leave. You won’t receive your salary during the 12 weeks that you’re off work.
  • You just can’t take off from work. Familiarize yourself with your workplace rules around taking medical leave as your employer may require a few days’ or weeks’ notice before you leave.
  • The 12-week medical leave under FMLA can be taken all at once or incrementally but it has to be taken within a year in total. This gives you a time frame that you can use while selecting an appropriate addiction treatment program.
  • If your employer has a workplace drug and alcohol policy that was communicated to you, they can still terminate your employment because of violating that policy. They still have a right to fire you because of substance abuse and the FMLA can’t protect you in such a case.

Are You Eligible For the FMLA Medical Leave?

If you are battling drug addiction, it is important to receive help before things become worse. You can take medical leave under the FMLA if your employment status meets these requirements:

  • You work for an employer who is covered by the FMLA. This means either a local, state, or federal agency, any public or private secondary or elementary school, or any private-sector employer with about 50 or more employees working 20 or more weeks annually.
  • You have worked for this employer for 12 months or more and work in an area where your employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.
  • You have worked for at least 1250 hours during the 12 months preceding your medical leave.

If you meet these eligibility criteria, then your job is protected by the FMLA and you can take your medical leave, seek treatment, and know that you can return to work once you’re better. The length of treatment will of course depend on your individual recovery needs as well as the addiction treatment program you choose. However, 12 weeks is enough to get you started on the path to recovery as long as you’re serious about it and commit yourself to the program.

Get the Help You Need Today

Drug addiction is a serious disease. Left unchecked, it can take over your life and jeopardize your health, relationships, and even job. If you don’t conquer it, you could end up losing everything you hold dear in your life.

If you have been hesitant to seek drug addiction treatment because of your job, you can take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. Here at Impact IOP in Louisville Kentucky, we’d be happy to help you beat your addiction. Our intensive outpatient programs are designed for people who want to keep up their schedules while undergoing treatment for their addiction. With the right care and support, you too could be a success story.

Don’t let addiction win and don’t allow fear of losing your job get in the way of receiving the treatment you need to conquer addiction. Get in touch with us today and let us help you on your recovery journey.

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