Using FMLA for Addiction Treatment

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Taking a Leave of Absence From Work for Rehab 
How to Use FMLA to Go to Treatment

At Guardian Recovery we understand how important it is to provide a range of treatment options, seeing as the individual needs of each client are unique and the level of care best-suited for one client might not work for another. We also understand how difficult it can be to reach out for help when you are weighed down with unanswered questions and valid concerns. What will happen to your career if you enter into a residential inpatient treatment program? Do you need to speak with your employer before you go to rehab? Will you run the risk of getting fired? Fortunately, there are several laws in place to protect your job while you seek addiction treatment, including the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. Those who are protected by FMLA are able to step away from their careers as they seek professional help without worrying about job security or discrimination. Don’t let fear of financial insecurity or job loss prevent you from seeking and receiving the effective treatment you deserve. Contact us today to learn more about using FMLA for addiction treatment.

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What is FMLA?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, FMLA covers employees that are currently working for an eligible employer. What makes an employer eligible? The employer must:

  • Be a public agency, including local, state and federal government agencies, regardless of the amount of employees.
  • Have at least 50 current employees within a 75 mile radius.
  • Be a public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the amount of employees.

You are eligible for FMLA leave if your current employer meets the above-listed criteria and if:

  • You have worked for your current employer for 12 months or longer.
  • During the 12 month period preceding your FMLA leave you worked for at least 1,250 hours in total.
  • You are caring for a dependent who is struggling with a serious health issue, or,
  • You have been struggling with a serious health issue which renders you incapable of completing the vital functions of your job.

FMLA also covers childbirth and military members on covered active duty. Does FMLA cover behavioral therapy services like medical detox, inpatient rehab and outpatient treatment? In short, yes. The U.S. Department of Labor states: “FMLA leave may only be taken for substance abuse treatment provided by a healthcare provider or by a provider of health care services on referral by a health care provider. Absence because of the employee’s use of the substance, rather than for treatment, does not qualify for FMLA leave. The employer may not take action against the employee because the employee has exercised his or her right to take FMLA leave for substance abuse treatment. However, if the employer has an established policy, applied in a non-discriminatory manner, that has been communicated to all employees, and that provides under certain circumstances an employee may be terminated for substance abuse, then pursuant to that policy the employee may be terminated regardless of whether he or she is presently taking FMLA leave.”

Basically, this means while you are not required to tell your employer about the reasoning behind your leave, if you are found intoxicated on the job you are at risk of termination, especially if you signed a contract when you were hired agreeing to avoid using mood and mind altering substances in the workplace. At Guardian Recovery we are available to walk you through the entire process of taking an FMLA-protected leave of absence from start to finish. Contact us today to learn more.

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Speaking with Your Employer

If you do decide to take a leave of absence protected under FMLA, do you need to inform your employer of your plans? In short, no — you can absolutely keep the reasoning behind your leave private.

However, we do recommend you thoroughly explore your company guidelines when it comes to taking advantage of this law or any others. If anything seems unclear or if you have any questions about taking leave, you can speak to your boss without letting them know exactly why you’re inquiring about the guidelines. You can also call Guardian Recovery, seeing as we have extensive experience helping people take advantage of FMLA and numerous other job protection laws. Additionally, it is a good idea to keep in mind your employer does have the right to terminate you if you are found to be intoxicated on the job or if your performance has been suffering as a direct result of your substance use.

If you managed to keep your substance abuse at bay while on the clock and if you feel comfortable speaking directly with your employer about your future absence, you might want to have an open and honest conversation. This doesn’t mean you should delve deep into the nitty-gritty details of your active addiction. Simply let your employer know your intentions and express gratitude for their understanding if you feel doing so would be appropriate. Contact us today for more tips on speaking to an employer or for more information on using FMLA for addiction treatment.

Our Treatment Centers

What level of care can FMLA be used for? FMLA can be used for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, however, the type of treatment you seek while you are on leave depends heavily on your personal needs. At Guardian Recovery we offer the following levels of care in the following regions of the U.S.:

At Guardian Recovery we work closely with experienced addiction recovery professionals across the country. Regardless of what type of service you or your loved one is looking for, we are able to put you in touch with someone who can help. Making the choice to seek professional help is certainly not a small decision to make, and we understand there are likely many questions still unanswered. As soon as you contact us we answer any questions you might have about the overall process and help get you started on the road to recovery in every way we can.

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Learn More About Using FMLA for Addiction Treatment

If you are interested in learning more about using FMLA for addiction treatment or if you are interested in learning more about our comprehensive recovery program, contact us today. Our experienced Treatment Advisors are standing by to answer any questions you have and to help guide you through the process of taking protected leave under FMLA or any other applicable laws. We know how difficult it can be to reach out for help, especially when you’re concerned about taking a break from your profession and potentially dealing with the consequences of doing so. Rest assured, there are many options to take advantage of. At Guardian Recovery we offer several levels of clinical care including medically monitored detoxresidential inpatient rehabpartial hospitalization and intensive outpatient treatment. In most cases FMLA covers any one of these treatment options — or several in succession. Our treatment centers cater to people across the country who have been struggling with addiction and co-occurring disorders and who are ready to begin living an entirely new way of life. Contact us today and one of our Treatment Advisors will help you develop a viable plan of action which makes the most sense for your current situation.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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