A Guide to FMLA

This article was written and published by RCA.


This year, many are starting their recovery journey and seeking substance use disorder treatment. If you’re one of those individuals, understanding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one way to ensure you get the treatment you need. To support you, we’ve compiled a guide on accessing FMLA.*

The first step is understanding FMLA. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a United States labor law that provides eligible employees with job-protected leave for specific family or medical reasons. Substance use disorder (SUD) treatment can be considered a qualifying medical reason under FMLA.

Inform your employer as soon as possible about your need for FMLA leave. Provide them with the necessary information about your situation and the expected duration of your absence. Your employer must notify you whether you are eligible for FMLA leave within five business days.

To be eligible for FMLA, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months, have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months preceding the start of FMLA leave, and work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within 75 miles. If eligible, your employer must provide you with your FMLA rights and responsibilities, as well as any request for certification.

Your employer may provide you with FMLA paperwork to fill out. This may include a medical certification form that needs to be completed by your healthcare provider, confirming the need for leave due to a serious health condition, such as substance use disorder.

Submit the completed FMLA paperwork, including the medical certification, to your employer within the timeframe specified by your employer’s policies. This is typically within 15 days of your request for leave.

Work closely with your healthcare provider on any necessary medical documentation. This may include details about the need for treatment, the expected duration of treatment, and any other relevant medical information.

Familiarize yourself with your employer’s FMLA policies and procedures. This may include understanding whether the leave will be paid or unpaid and any additional requirements your employer may have. Keep open lines of communication with your employer throughout your leave. If there are any changes in the duration of your treatment changes, inform your employer promptly.

*Disclaimer: It’s important to note that individual circumstances and employer policies can vary. It’s recommended to consult with your employer’s HR department and review the specific FMLA guidelines applicable to your situation. Additionally, consider seeking guidance from legal professionals or employee assistance programs if needed. The resources provided in this post have been adapted from the U.S. Department of Labor website.

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