FMLA For Alcohol Detox
By Midwest Detox Staff
There are many barriers standing between an alcoholic and treatment for their addiction. First and foremost, they need to want to change. More often than not, this takes a rock bottom moment. The alcoholic needs to become aware of the damage that their drinking has done and is continuing to do. They need to be able to take a hard look at their life and the consequences of their choices. Only once they are able to acknowledge the severity of their addiction can they seek treatment.
However, seeking treatment is not necessarily an easy task for an addict. There are so many fears involved with the detox process and even someone who wants to change can be intimidated by everything that getting treatment involves. Oftentimes, not everyone in their life, particularly their work life, may know of their addiction and simply being able to disappear from work in order to enter a detox program may seem too daunting.
What Is FMLA?
The Family and Medical Leave Act allows eligible employees to take an unpaid leave from work with the security of knowing that their job will still be waiting for them upon their return. The terms of FMLA allow for up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12 month period. This unpaid leave that guarantees job protection is available to anyone with either personal or family medical reasons that would make it necessary to leave work.
FMLA ensures that the employee does not lose whatever group health insurance benefits they receive from their employer. These benefits continue even while they are on leave. To qualify for FMLA, the individual needs to have been employed for at least 12 months and worked a minimum of 1,250 hours. Additionally, they must work at a location where their employer has at least 50 employees within a 75 mile distance.
What Conditions Qualify For FMLA Leave
There are many conditions that qualify for FMLA leave. Childbirth and having to care for a newborn is a very common one. Another reason you may qualify for FMLA would be if you have a spouse, child or parent with a serious medical condition that needs tending to. If the employee themselves is suffering from a health condition, be it a physical condition or a mental one, that is negatively impacting their ability to work, they are also eligible to request FMLA leave.
It is important to note that the employer can never penalize you for requesting FMLA leave. Instituted by the United States Department of Labor, it is a right extended to all eligible employees. It was created in order to help employees balance their work life and personal life in a way that is not detrimental to their health. In fact, even when an FMLA leave request is denied for invalid conditions, the employer still cannot hold it against the employee that they asked for it.
Who Pays For FMLA Leave
FMLA leave does not guarantee pay, it guarantees job security. This unpaid leave does still provide the employee with their health insurance benefits, but it does not provide a paycheck. FMLA leave is not a government benefit that people can just take advantage of when they need a break from work. It is a serious benefit offered to employees so they can have the ability to tend to personal or family emergencies without worrying about losing their job.
Job security is not something to be taken lightly. In fact, many people ignore serious medical issues, delay vital surgeries, and are unable to be there for family members simply because they are too worried about what will happen to their job. Having the promise of job security while tending to these serious matters is vitally important and allows employees to live balanced and healthy lives.
Does FMLA Cover Alcohol Detox?
As stated previously, FMLA will cover any serious health condition that impairs the employee’s ability to perform the duties essential to their job description. Considered a brain disorder by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, there is no question that alcoholism is a disease. If the employee is an alcoholic, their condition will definitely affect their work life and their productivity levels.
Generally speaking, the two areas that see the most damage from addiction are the addict’s personal life and work life. If the drinking is causing their professional life to suffer, then the alcoholic is eligible to use FMLA leave to attend a detox program. By doing so, they can safely take the time they need to seek treatment without worrying about what their absence from work might do to their career.
How To Apply For FMLA Leave When Going To Detox
In a perfect scenario, it is preferable to give your employer 30 days notice before taking FMLA leave. However, in the world of addiction, giving that amount of notice may be impossible. The decision to enter a detox program is often a last second rock-bottom decision that does not afford 30 days notice. In such cases, the alcoholic should provide notice “as soon as practicable”. This means that the employee is allowed to leave notice at the last second if that is what is possible due to their condition.
To apply for FMLA leave, the employee must fill out the necessary forms and let their boss know that they need to take leave. The employee is not required to give any details about their medical condition and cannot be forced to sign any medical release or waiver form. HIPAA laws protect the patient’s confidentiality. For that same reason, the healthcare providers at the detox center are also not allowed to share any patient information.
Alternatives to FMLA Leave
In case you are not eligible for FMLA leave, there are other options available so that an alcoholic can seek treatment without fear of losing their job. In order to attend an alcohol detox program, the employee can use their vacation days, their sick days, or their personal days for additional time off. The variety of options ensure that the individual can safely tend to their personal health and medical needs.
It is imperative to understand that these options exist so that employees can take the time necessary to get better. While a good work ethic is an attractive quality to have, nothing is more important than an individual’s personal health and well-being. Use the tools available to you in order to seek the treatment necessary to overcome the disease that is alcoholism.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out to Midwest Detox at 414-409-5200 or send us a message today.