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September 6, 2022

FMLA and Addiction Treatment: Everything You Need to Know

When serious health conditions arise for yourself or an immediate family member, it’s critical that you take time off from work to get the help you need. However, taking time off from work can be daunting, especially if you’re concerned about your job security. Fortunately, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in the United States provides job protection for employees who need extended time off from work, so they can maintain their benefits and job responsibilities.

What is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The Family and Medical Leave Act was introduced to Congress in 1984 but didn’t pass until 1993 under Bill Clinton’s presidency. This important federal policy has helped millions of Americans take the necessary time off from work to seek professional healthcare, or to provide care for an immediate family member.
FMLA provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year while allowing you to keep your insurance group benefits (this can be up to 26 weeks for service member family leave). During these 12 weeks, your job is fully protected by law, so you may return to your employer with an equivalent job, pay, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment. Employers are not permitted to fault an employee (such as reduced pay) for using FMLA to take time off. An employer is also not allowed to interfere with your right to take FMLA leave.

Your job provides FMLA if it has these qualifications:

  • If you work for a private-sector employer, your company must have 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks.
  • Applies to all public agencies on local, state, and federal levels. A minimum number of employees is not required.
  • Applies to public or private elementary or secondary schools. A minimum number of employees is not required.
  • In 2008, military family leave provisions were added.
  • All employers must be covered by insurance.

In general, you must provide 30 days’ notice before taking FMLA leave. However, unforeseen circumstances for shorter notice are permitted, especially since you can’t always control the ups and downs of serious health conditions.

While the above qualifications are federal standards, some states have additional regulations to help employees and employers. For instance, 10 states currently provide paid FMLA leave. Many states have also created laws that serve businesses under 50 employees and employees who have worked less than 1,250 hours for the company. You can look up additional FMLA regulations based on your state.

Who qualifies for FMLA?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employees can qualify for FMLA for the following family and medical reasons:

  • The birth and care of a newborn child to a spouse
  • Placement for adoption or foster care of a child
  • Care for an immediate family member (spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, grandparent, grandchild) with a serious health condition
  • Personal care for a serious health condition
  • Maternity

There are three different types of FMLA: continuous, intermittent, and reduced schedule leave. Continuous refers to an employee being absent for three consecutive business days while they seek medical treatment. Intermittent refers to an employee who needs to miss work in separate hourly, daily, or weekly blocks (typically used for ongoing treatment). Reduced schedule leave allows an employee to work fewer hours during the week to take care of themselves or a family member.

There are certain conditions you must meet on top of the above circumstances:

  • You must have worked for a minimum of 12 months, although these 12 months do not have to be consecutive (for instance, you could have taken other breaks and resumed periods of working).
  • You must have logged at least 1250 hours over the last 12 months. These hours are defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which establishes policies such as minimum wage and overtime pay.
  • You must live within 75 miles of your employer.

If you are unsure if you meet the above qualifications, check with your employer to determine your work tenure.

What qualifies as a serious health condition?

It might be confusing to determine what qualifies as a serious health condition since everyone is different and requires different levels of care. According to the FMLA law, a serious health condition is anything that prevents you from doing the essential duties of your job–whether that’s mental, physical, or both.

Examples include severe cases of mental health disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar. Physical health conditions include cancer, diabetes, pregnancy, and multiple sclerosis. This also applies to family members you need to care for who are dealing with these conditions.

Luckily, diagnosis and treatment are completely confidential, thanks to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Employees are not required to tell their diagnosis to their employer, but they must provide information indicating that their leave is due to a condition protected by FMLA.

For example, if your doctor said you needed to stay home for an extended period of time to take antibiotics, or you need to be hospitalized, this is information your employer should know. It’s important to have good communication with your employer, so you understand your rights to paid leave, and so your employer understands when you are able to return to work.

Does FMLA cover substance abuse treatment?

Yes, FMLA covers substance abuse treatment for an individual employee, or for an employee who is caring for a family member going through treatment. Addiction affects a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being and can severely impair someone’s ability to perform daily tasks at their job. It is a complicated disorder that requires multi-faceted treatment, and most treatment centers offer 30, 60, and 90-day programs.

FMLA for Alcohol Treatment

Under the FMLA, alcohol addiction is considered a serious medical condition as it affects the function of the brain and body. This means employees are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Alcoholism can greatly impact an employee’s ability to work and can result in financial loss for companies as a result of absenteeism, loss in productivity, and employee health complications.

FMLA for Drug Abuse Treatment

Similarly, FMLA covers leave for drug abuse treatment, as this is considered a serious medical condition. As stated earlier, FMLA does not protect employees from missing work as a result of drug abuse.

Do I need to take FMLA leave all at once?

No, you don’t need to use your full 12 weeks of FMLA leave all at once. You can take FMLA as a single block, or spread it out over multiple, smaller blocks of time. This is especially helpful for patients receiving ongoing therapy and treatment who may need to leave work early or reduce their hours on a daily or weekly basis.

For example, an employee undergoing surgery who needs three weeks off may take partial leave, or an employee doing outpatient rehab who needs to do weekly hospital visits will benefit from this model. Your employer is required to document periods of FMLA leave.

Can I use PTO (paid time off) during FMLA leave?

While FMLA leave is unpaid, you are allowed to use sick time, vacation time, or any other PTO days your employer permits, so that you can get paid on those days. You will need to follow the normal process of submitting PTO requests to take these days off. When you use paid leave for FMLA purposes, this time is still protected by FMLA policies. Using PTO may be a wise choice, especially if it’s toward the end of the year when PTO may reset.

How to Apply for FMLA

Applying to FMLA is a relatively straightforward process, provided that you and your employer meet the legal requirements to be able to use FMLA leave. Each employer is different, but there’s a general flow you and your employer need to follow to have FMLA leave approved.

Steps for Applying to FMLA:

  1. Provide a 30-day notice to your employer when you plan to take leave. If you find out you must take leave sooner than 30 days, provide notice as soon as possible to your employer. You will not be penalized if you cannot provide a 30-day notice. However, it’s important to do it as quickly as possible to sort out your application and make sure you have time to find a treatment center.
  2. Your employer is required to provide you with your FMLA rights and responsibilities. This includes your right to maintain health benefits, your right to return to your job, and a definition of the 12-month period your employer uses to keep track of FMLA time off. Failure to do so could result in a penalty of up to $110. They may also request a medical certification from a healthcare provider (see below).
  3. If certification is requested, you must provide a completed form to your employer within 15 calendar days.
  4. Your employer must notify you within 5 business days if FMLA has been approved. Once approved, you are permitted to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. When you return, your employer must keep you at your same job, or an equivalent job with the same pay, benefits, and responsibilities.


Covered employers must include information about FMLA in their employee handbooks, or provide this information to new hires. It is unlawful for an employer to deny an employee the right to exercise rights provided by the FMLA, or to discriminate against employees for choosing to do so.

If you’re overwhelmed with the application process, or simply need guidance, Inner Voyage can help you apply for FMLA and guide you through each step while you communicate with your employer. Our team is here to help make the process easier and stress-free.

What if my employer needs a medical certification?

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has developed certification forms for employees to fill out and provide to their employers. These forms can be printed or filled out electronically. Employers may also use their own forms, as long as those forms require the same basic information.

There are 2 main FMLA certification forms:

  • Form WH-380-E: This applies to an employee requesting leave for a serious health condition.
  • Form WH-380-F: This applies to an employee requesting leave due to a serious health condition of a family member.

There are also three different certifications of military family leave, which you can find on the DOL website. This includes the Qualifying Exigency from WH-384 and the Military Caregiver Leave of a Veteran. These forms cover basics including job title, work schedule, essential job functions, the type of care you or a family member is receiving, and the amount of leave needed.

Woodstock recovery center

Does Inner Voyage provide drug and alcohol treatment?

Inner Voyage is a full-service rehab and treatment center based in Woodstock, GA. However, we are more than just a Woodstock recovery center for patients–we are a team of professionals who care about the well-being of our patients and seek to break the cycle of addiction by providing healthy, lasting coping methods. We believe everyone belongs, everyone can heal, and everyone can lead a fulfilling life.

Inner Voyage was founded by Jeff Baucom who recovered from his own addiction to drugs and alcohol. Jeff’s philosophy is founded on the idea that true wellness begins with inner spiritual peace, which has mental, physical, and emotional factors. Many professionals at Inner Voyage are also recovered addicts, so they deeply understand the process of seeking treatment, withdrawal, and the joy that comes with living a renewed life. At Inner Voyage, you can begin a new journey of connection to yourself and others while breaking the cycles of addiction.

Inner Voyage provides 30, 60, and 90-day treatment programs that treat substance abuse for alcohol, heroin, opioids, cocaine, marijuana, prescription pills, and methamphetamine. We understand that no two addictions are the same, which is why we provide professional, personalized treatment to every individual. Our goal is to treat the underlying conditions and trauma that led to addiction in the first place.

By working with patients to get medical help and address these issues to deal with life’s daily stressors, as well as provide optional Christian recovery counseling, our patients can safely return to work and home life armed with healthy coping strategies.

Finding the Right Treatment Program

Finding the Right Treatment Program

Today, drug and alcohol addiction affects nearly 23.5 million Americans. However, only 10% of these individuals will receive the necessary treatment to attain and maintain sobriety.

At Inner Voyage, our treatment programs are flexible, so that every patient gets the exact care that they need. We offer partial hospitalization, inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient programs, residential programs, and recovery housing.

Additionally, we provide numerous counseling services to address the trauma behind addiction, including drug counseling, an adventure-based counseling program, CBT therapy, and faith-based counseling.

I am looking for a PHP program near me, can Inner Voyage help?

PHP treatment, an abbreviation for partial hospitalization programs, typically requires 5 visits per week depending on the needs of the patient. This type of program is more intensive than outpatient treatment and is recommended for individuals leaving rehab as an intermediary step, or for those undergoing withdrawal symptoms.

PHP is extremely effective when paired with additional services, such as therapy and community activities. If you’re looking for a Canton rehab center or Woodstock rehab center that provides PHP, Inner Voyage can help.

I am looking for IOP programs near me, can Inner Voyage help?

IOP refers to intensive outpatient programs for recovering addicts. IOP treatment requires less time commitment than PHP and allows patients to integrate back into their normal lives. Patients still receive medical and psychological care but can choose how often they’d like to go, and where they’d like to go.

IOP is recommended for individuals who have surpassed the withdrawal stage and do not need 24/7 monitoring, or those suffering from more mild addiction. It encourages patients to get back to their daily routines while being realistic about medical and psychological needs.

Adventure-Based Counseling

What is Adventure-Based Counseling?

Inner Voyage offers an interactive, engaging adventure-based counseling program to help patients thrive in immersive environments. Adventure-based counseling (ABC) utilizes group therapy to create experiential learning opportunities and group activities.

By combining nature, new challenges, and daring exercises, patients can get hands-on experience and overcome negative, self-defeating beliefs. Types of ABC include camping, rock climbing, kayaking, obstacle courses, paddle boarding, and white-water rafting. These outdoor activities can help people overcome mental and physical challenges by getting them outside their comfort zone, while guided by professional counselors and supportive team members.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Rehab Facility

Choosing the right program for drug and alcohol addiction can be overwhelming, especially when decision-making is impaired by the effects of substance abuse. There are a few factors to keep in mind when applying for FMLA and choosing the best addiction treatment program.

  • Time Commitment: When seeking treatment, it’s important to accept that proper care will require significant time commitment and intention. While the time commitment may be daunting at first, it is designed to help you thrive in the long-term, saving you time, money, and energy that otherwise would have been eliminated by substance abuse. The shortest rehab programs are 30 days, while longer programs are 90 days. Each program is personalized to a patient’s needs and may involve hospitalization or outpatient care.
  • Cost: While each insurance is different, they are required to cover mental and behavioral health services. Check with your employer and/or insurance provider to see what is covered under drug and alcohol addiction treatment. Most facilities also offer payment plans, rather than upfront costs.
  • Lifestyle: Choosing a rehab facility that’s right for you also comes down to lifestyle. At Inner Voyage, we take a full, comprehensive look at our patients’ needs to provide a spectrum of medical treatments and therapy. We can also provide a spiritual component to treatment, allowing patients to explore the deeper meaning behind their addiction and life purpose. Lifestyle also refers to whether or not you want inpatient or outpatient treatment, as each program provides different benefits and structures.
Your Recovery Journey with Inner Voyage

Begin Your Recovery Journey with Inner Voyage

If you are applying for FMLA leave and seeking drug and alcohol treatment, Inner Voyage Recovery Center has the tools to help you cope with addiction and return to a healthier lifestyle. Our team is also qualified to help with FMLA applications to make the process easier and stress-free.

Give our recovery center a call today.

If you or someone you know needs any of our services

Please call us at 470-863-8259