Apr 28, 2023

FMLA for Alcohol Rehab: Your Guide to Using Your Coverage

It’s important for workers who need to take time off to deal with their alcohol addiction and get treatment to understand how the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to their situation. This law allows employees to take leave from work for medical reasons, including addiction treatment and alcohol rehab, without fear of losing their job. Knowing your rights under FMLA can help you focus on your recovery and get the help you need.

The FMLA: A Comprehensive Overview

The FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) is a federal law created to help protect sick or injured employees and their families. Every eligible employee can get up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected medical leave each year. Moreover, the time can be used for the employee or their family members. 

A big benefit to this job protection is that it helps employees keep their health insurance benefits. These benefits are critical for employees who are sick or injured. They are also important to employees who are caregivers.

Am I Eligible for FMLA Benefits?

FMLA applies to all employers who use 50 or more people within 75 miles of the business location. Additionally, the employee must have at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months to be eligible for a leave request.

There are many reasons that someone may seek FMLA leave. Some of the most common include:

  • Time off work for the birth and care of a newborn

  • Adoption or care of a child

  • Caring for a member of their immediate family

  • Recovering from illness or injury themselves

  • Getting mental health treatment

Alcohol Rehab and FMLA: An Introduction

There is a solid relationship between FMLA and alcohol rehab. Many people wonder, “Does FMLA cover alcohol rehab?”. The short answer is yes. Treatment for substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder and workplace accommodations will be covered following medical certification.

The FMLA recognizes alcohol rehab as a type of addiction treatment. This is a treatment for a serious health condition. Many employees who struggle with alcohol addiction can use the FMLA. This means they can qualify for the employee leave policies of the FMLA. By seeking alcohol rehab, employees struggling with alcohol addiction can get crucial support. Not only that, but they can access these resources while keeping their employee rights intact.

Eligibility Requirements for FMLA Leave for Alcohol Rehab

Eligibility for FMLA is relatively easy to determine. The FMLA protections for employee benefits like health insurance are simple. The employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours. 

There is one additional requirement, however. The alcohol rehab must qualify as a treatment for a serious condition. This is done with medical certification. Medical certification means a healthcare professional has determined the condition is serious enough. 

This may include intensive programs like an inpatient program or a relatively simple need for continuing treatment or aftercare resources. The employee must show medical certification to support their need for treatment. 

Duration of FMLA Coverage for Alcohol Rehab

It’s important to know how long you can take off work for alcohol rehab using FMLA. The good news is that you can take up to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period. This means you can take three months off to focus on your recovery without worrying about losing your job. Remembering this time off is unpaid, but getting the help you need to overcome addiction is worth it. Your employer cannot fire you for taking FMLA leave, so you can focus on your recovery without worrying about your job.

How to Request FMLA Leave for Alcohol Rehab

Once someone has decided to begin alcohol rehab, there will often be a set leave policy they must follow. This policy is usually established at an organizational level or company-wide. They usually serve as the official channels for an employee to deal with FMLA leave.

To get more clarification about your company’s policy for FMLA leave, check with your supervisor or HR department. If you determine that alcohol rehab is right for you, you should try to give at least 30 days’ notice. If that’s not possible, let your employer know immediately. As an employee, you may need also to submit your medical certification form to your HR rep when dealing with them.

In many cases, the employee will need to fill out some paperwork. This is usually a form that deals with medical certification. Once this is completed and a copy of the certification is attached, the need for alcohol rehab and disability rights should be verified. 

Job Protection and Workplace Accommodations for Employees

Employees who have gone through the proper channels are protected under the FMLA. Under the FMLA, employees taking leave for alcohol rehab or addiction treatment have protections. They are given job protection as well as workplace accommodations. 

When they return after treatment, their employers must also reinstate the employee in the same or roughly equivalent position. Also, employers are supposed to continue providing insurance benefits during the leave period. 

Remember that employees are not entitled to any special treatment during FMLA leave. Employers of individuals on FMLA leave for alcohol rehab must treat them like anyone else on leave.

Returning to Work After Alcohol Rehab: Understanding Your Rights and Obligations

After you complete an alcohol rehab program, you’re probably excited to get back to work. While you may be eager to start earning again, you’ll need to give your employer a fitness-for-duty certification from your healthcare provider.

All this does is state that they can resume their duties. In most cases, this will be required as part of the return-to-work policies at your place of work. Before returning to it, remember that you are entitled to reasonable accommodations. This includes things like modified work schedules, temporary shifts in responsibilities, and even ongoing access to mental health resources.

Legal Protections for Employees Seeking FMLA Leave for Alcohol Rehab

You have various legal protections under FMLA for alcohol rehab. Employers cannot use FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment decisions. This includes hiring, promotions, and any disciplinary actions or status. It’s also illegal for an employer to threaten or retaliate against employees who exercise their FMLA rights.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, the first step is reaching out for help. By speaking with a member of our expert local team, you can get the guidance you need to protect your job with the FMLA. Contact The Massachusetts Center for Addiction today.


MCA Staff
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