Many addicts and alcoholics do not seek treatment because they are in fear of losing their job. They also are unaware of a nationwide Act called The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, which will help protect them while they go to drug rehab or attend an alcohol treatment program.
What is FMLA?
FMLA entitles qualified employees of employers who are covered to take an unpaid, job-protected, leave of absence for a specified family member and/or medical issue. The group health insurance coverage is utilized the same way as if the employee had never taken leave. What does this mean for the alcoholic or addict? FMLA protects them by keeping their insurance coverage at the same rate without having to go into COBRA; they are also protected from losing their job while trying to obtain treatment for their disease without discrimination.
FMLA Benefits And Protections
If the person is an addict or alcoholic seeking treatment, under the FMLA guideline, covered private or public employers are to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave of absence to qualified employees for a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job duties. During FMLA leave of absence, the employer must maintain the employee’s health care coverage under any group health care plan and on the same conditions as if the employee was still working. Upon returning a from FMLA leave of absence, most employees must be returned to their original job or at least an equivalent position with the same pay, benefits, and other employment terms and conditions as before. Use of FMLA leave of absence cannot result in the loss of any employment benefits that were accrued prior to the start of an employee’s FMLA leave. No employee should be discriminated against while under FMLA.
How Does Addiction Apply Under FMLA?
FMLA can be used for other medical conditions or family medical issues, but in this specific case, it can be used in treating addiction. Alcoholism and drug addiction are considered a primary chronic and progressive disease according to American Society for Addiction Medicine (ASAM), which falls under the guidelines of having a serious health condition.
The truth is, there are many addicts and alcoholics who have already lost their job due to their addiction, some have never really worked before and have no job to leave behind, and others are currently working and not getting help because they are in fear of losing their position. If more addicts and alcoholics knew about FMLA and that treating addiction is the same as treating a serious medical condition, more would probably seek treatment. We hope that the fear of losing a job does not deter anyone from getting treatment from a disease that will and does kill people. Attending a treatment program is such a short amount of time when you think of a lifetime of being able to live free from the obsession to use or drink, don’t you think? If you would like to learn more about our programs and how we can help you understand and implement FMLA, give us a call now: 800-853-1614.
Written By: Watershed Ashling