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Can I Take Disability/FMLA Leave From Work for Drug and Alcohol Treatment?

Can I Take Disability Leave From Work for Drug and Alcohol Treatment?

Are you wondering if you can take disability leave from work for drug and alcohol rehab without losing your job? Our blog explains.

Choosing drug and alcohol rehab is an intelligent decision and takes much consideration. If you are struggling with drugs and alcohol, taking a leave of absence to address it can make all the difference in your life. Although, you may wonder if you can take disability leave from work when choosing to go to drug and alcohol rehab.

Protection With the Federal Law

Since substance use disorders can influence a person's life and inhibit them from functioning correctly, federal policies and laws exist to help protect you if you want to leave work. Based on your current situation, some of these laws can help keep you covered when you take medical leave or disability for treatment.

The federal laws established express that employers cannot discriminate against their workers based on disabilities. The laws put in place are called The Americans with Disability Act and The Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Additionally, the Family Medical Leave Act helps protect individuals and safeguard their job adequately when seeking recovery.

For example, The Family Medical Leave Act protects you if you need to leave work for some time to take care of family matters with health concerns. Perhaps you seek substance use disorder treatment, medical attention for substance use-induced physical illness, or you need to care for others in your family who require treatment for substance use. 

The Family Medical Leave Act has policies in place that say the employer cannot fire, refuse promotion, or remote you (the employee) if you choose to utilize your rights. In addition, the Act provides 12 weeks for recovery treatment or to help if you are struggling with a substance use disorder without having to lose your job.

Although you are currently working, you may be hesitant to leave the job to find treatment. It is common to be nervous about taking time off of work or taking full advantage of the laws in place due to worries that you will get fired or demoted from your position.

Specific regulations are put in place to protect your job, but an employer can still fire you in some cases. Therefore, it is essential to understand that utilizing your legal protection to seek out treatment will help protect your job if you choose to seek the path of healing. 

It is crucial to put yourself first. Remember—notify your employer through the proper channels if you decide to leave to attend treatment, and you cannot be fired. That is a relief and can serve as a springboard into sobriety if the fear of job security is holding you back. Additionally, if you are using substances and endangering yourself and others around you, the employer is not obligated to protect your employment position.

Disability Leave for Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Regarding the same note of policies and federal laws to help protect your job, a policy exists to help protect you from losing your job because of disabilities. The Americans with Disability Act prevents employers from discriminating against those with disabilities and protects workers in treatment who qualify for substance use as a disability.

Various factors in the act allow you to become qualified for protection. Still, it can be tricky when substance use has not been a factor for weeks or months, yet you are terminated. When you seek to qualify for a substance use disorder disability, you must take action. 

For example, if you qualify for disability and do not seek treatment to address it, measures can be taken against you. Additionally, if you are currently using substances, you may not qualify for the disability if your employer establishes grounds for dismissal before your request.

You can use some other insight to better protect yourself and determine if you can take disability leave from work for drug and alcohol rehab. Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you are allotted 12 weeks of unpaid time to attend recovery treatment. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), there is no violation for employers to test for drugs and alcohol. If you are currently using substances, you potentially could get fired or denied employment if it is not addressed immediately.

If you choose to leave work for a severe health condition, you can be protected by the FMLA. Therefore, it is crucial to speak with a representative from your insurance company and a rehab center that understands federal laws and policies before requesting the leave.

Can I Use the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for Drug Rehab?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for a variety of reasons, including for treatment of substance abuse. Under FMLA, employees are allowed to use their 12 weeks of leave in order to attend drug rehab programs if they are battling with addiction or another mental health issue.

FMLA Requirements: Do I Qualify for FMLA Leave?

In order to qualify for FMLA leave, you must have worked at least 12 months for the employer and logged at least 1,250 hours during that time. In addition, your employer must have 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of your worksite. If you meet these criteria, then you are eligible for FMLA leave and can use it for drug and alcohol treatment or rehabilitation.

It's important to note, however, that not all employers are required to provide FMLA leave. If you work for a small business with fewer than 50 employees, then your employer may not be obligated to offer you this type of leave. In addition, FMLA only applies if the employer is covered by the act—even if you are eligible, your employer may not be subject to the terms of this act.

If you are considering taking FMLA leave for drug and alcohol treatment, it's important to make sure that your employer is aware of the reason for your absence. Employers are generally prohibited from retaliating against employees who take medical leave for an addiction-related issue.

However, you may want to consult with an attorney if your employer takes any action against you related to taking FMLA leave for drug and alcohol treatment.

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Is FMLA Leave Paid Leave?

No, FMLA leave is unpaid. However, some states may provide employees with the option to use accrued paid leave during their absence. Additionally, if you are a veteran who has been diagnosed with substance abuse disorder or addiction, then you may qualify for benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Are There Other Options for Leave?

If you don't qualify or can't use FMLA, there may be other options available. Some employers offer short-term disability benefits that allow employees to take a paid leave of absence in order to attend rehab or treatment. Additionally, some employers may offer unpaid medical leave for addiction-related issues.

If you are considering taking a medical leave of absence for drug and alcohol treatment, it's important to discuss your options with your employer before making any decisions. Your employer may be able to provide additional resources or assistance that can help you during this difficult time.

It's also important to talk to your doctor or a trained addiction specialist before making any decisions about taking leave from work. They can provide information and guidance on the best way to manage your treatment and recovery while still working and providing for yourself. With the right support, it is possible to take the necessary steps toward recovery without compromising your job or your career.

No matter what, it's essential to remember that you don't have to face this battle alone.

Addiction Needs To Be Treated Quickly.

The Edge Treatment Center provides complete confidentiality when you contact us to discuss your options and guide you in a direction that will best meet your needs. Other attributes regarding federal laws and policies can help you determine if you qualify for disability leave from work for drug and alcohol rehab.

We understand how difficult it is to open up and confide in someone else about substance use and life struggles. We are here to help you without judgment or biased opinion as we understand the vicious cycle of substance use. For more information about disability leave from work for drug and alcohol abuse treatment, speak to The Edge today at (800) 778-1772.

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We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

Treatment Professional

Addiction Recovery

March 24, 2022