What is FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed by Congress and was signed into law under the presidency of Bill Clinton in January 1993. FMLA is a key tool to help millions of American workers balance their family life and work.

What is FMLA?

The FMLA is a federal labor law that allows eligible employees of organizations to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to protect their job or to substitute appropriate paid leave if the employee has accrued or earned other types of leave benefits, such as for the purposes of being a parent, family caregiver, or for medical reasons. 

Nearly 56% of all American workers are eligible for this coverage under the FMLA. The policy covers the following: 

  • Employees who have worked at least 1,250 hours during that year (or 156 days approximately).
  • People who have been employed by a company for at least one year. 
  • Employees who live within 75 miles of the workplace. 
  • People who work for an employer who employs 50+ employees for at least 20 weeks during the current or previous year.

If you are experiencing any form of addiction, it is vital that you get the help you need. But if you are hoping to do it under the umbrella of the FMLA, you need to know if you are covered by it. An individual is eligible for medical leave based on the above criteria, but it’s also important to understand if you are working for a cooperative employer. According to the US Department of Labor and Employment, who is defined as “covered” can be one of the following:

  • A private-sector employer with 50 or more employees working 20 or more weeks every year. 
  • Any public or private elementary school or secondary school. 
  • Any local, state, or federal government agency.

Can the FMLA Be Used for Rehab?

Addiction is a disorder that affects an individual’s health in numerous ways. Employees seeking addiction treatment are protected from losing their job under the FMLA, and those experiencing forms of addiction and needing to undergo treatment can benefit from those 12 weeks of medical leave.

Can the FMLA Be Used for Mental Health Treatments?

It is also possible to use the FMLA to take time off work for treating any form of mental health concern. This is on the condition that you have a mental health illness that is officially diagnosed by a licensed healthcare professional. The FMLA defines a serious health condition as anything requiring continuing treatment or inpatient care from a healthcare provider. Therefore, anybody who is experiencing stress, anxiety, or another form of major depressive disorder can apply. 

In the context of mental health and addiction, if someone has one mental health issue it may co-occur with another. For example, substance abuse and depression can occur and are officially known as co-occurring disorders. Approximately 50% of people experiencing mental illness will also develop a substance use disorder. Therefore, anybody experiencing a co-occurring disorder could benefit from using the FMLA to treat both conditions.

What Qualifies as a Serious Health Condition Under FMLA?

A serious health condition is defined as anything that prevents an individual from performing essential duties of the job. This covers a wides number of mental health conditions, including:

  • Severe depression. 
  • Stress and anxiety. 
  • Schizophrenia. 
  • Severe bipolar disorder. 
  • Memory disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. 
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

If someone is hoping to have treatment for substance abuse, it can be stressful enough to wonder if they have a job waiting for them after pursuing treatment. As the FMLA is there to protect employees, while also giving them the freedom they need to get treatment for their condition, this should provide some peace of mind for the employee. If you have concerns that you or someone you care about is going to be fired from the job because of the condition, eligible individuals experiencing substance abuse should use their FMLA time to begin their journey to recovery.

Reach out to Peaks Recovery in Colorado

The process of getting treatment for addiction should not cause extra concern or stress for the individual. Anybody undergoing treatment for addiction needs to focus on their recovery and not feel anxious if there is a job waiting for them upon their return. This is why, if you or someone you care about is currently considering treatment for addiction but are worried they will upset their employer, it’s important to note that the FMLA is something that provides that all-important protection. For anyone looking for treatment, Peaks Recovery can provide this and the essential information to help someone at any stage of their recovery journey.