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What You Need to Know About FMLA Leave for Treatment
You don’t want to lose your job, but you know you need help. Most of us don’t have four weeks of vacation time available to attend drug treatment. Fortunately, there are other options. In many cases, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) can give you the opportunity to take some time off to address your addiction.
What is the Family Medical Leave Act?
The FMLA is intended to allow employees to balance their work and family life by taking reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons, explains the United States Department of Labor,
Sounds really helpful, right? It is, but there are a few restrictions to consider. First, you have to be an eligible employee. This means your employer must employ you for at least 12 months on the date that FMLA leave starts. If the employer is privately held, the employer must have 50 or more employees.
Once you and your company meet these criteria, you still have to have a reason that qualifies for FMLA leave. This might include the arrival of a new child, taking care of a family member with a serious health condition or receiving treatment for your own serious illness. So, what constitutes a “serious health condition”? It’s one that requires a stay at a facility, continuous treatment or is a chronic condition, according to the United States Department of Labor.
Lastly, FMLA time off may only legally be taken for substance abuse treatment offered by a healthcare provider or by a provider of healthcare services on referral by a healthcare provider. To satisfy this part of the rule, you must go to a healthcare provider, a standard that some treatment centers may not meet.
Talking to Your Employer
Once you know you have met all of the requirements, ask to meet with your boss or supervisor. It can be scary, but remember that your employer wants you to be healthy and able to do your best work. Explain to your boss that you would like to take some FMLA time off. You can share as much information as you want, but know that you don’t have to go into specific details unless you signed an official form regarding drug use at your company or if your employer has a zero tolerance policy. (Keep in mind that you may be required to submit medical certification as well.)
At this point, you will need to talk with your human resources department and fill out some paperwork. FMLA time allows you to take time off with the reassurance that your job will be waiting for you when you return.
While you may think it’s wise to limit your FMLA time off by choosing a short-term detox program, multiple studies show that drug treatment programs lasting 30 days are best for your long-term health and lasting recovery. These 30-day programs are typically at a facility away from work and home, which limits distractions, allowing you to focus solely on treatment while xperience growth and restoration in a new environment. Think about it: You can grow more when you are away from any reminders of past slip-ups. You’ll also start to replace bad habits with new, healthy ones while you jumpstart the healing process.
Returning to Work
When you arrive back on the job, it’s important to stay in touch with your employer and fill out the necessary paperwork on time. Make sure that you communicate with your employer as much as possible, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. While not part of the FMLA rules, you may be able to come back part-time or even work from home as you transition back to work.
Treatment isn’t over once you return to work. You can still attend aftercare and counseling sessions — in fact, most treatment professionals will encourage this. Just keep in mind that your employer will expect you to attend sessions at times that cause the least amount of disruption to your workday, Skywood Recovery reminds.
If you or someone you love struggles with a drug problem, the FMLA can ensure you get the time you need to start on the path to recovery and a healthy, drug-free life.
Written by Jim Woods
A writer for Talbott Recovery.
Addiction and substance abuse can impact all areas of a person’s life. It can affect your relationships, home life, mood and career. For professionals in a variety of fields, getting treatment isn’t as easy as picking up the phone. There are unique needs that must be addressed. Fortunately, there is hope for professionals dealing with an addiction. Talbott Recovery’s Professionals Program has earned a national reputation for comprehensive addiction recovery treatment (including alcoholism and other drug use and addictive disorders) and its related medical, psychological, psychiatric, spiritual and work-related issues.