Does Alcohol Rehab Qualify for FMLA

Does Alcohol Rehab Qualify for FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)?

Congratulations! You have taken a brave step towards recovery by signing up for alcohol rehab. It might be a difficult and rather expensive decision, but it will benefit you – and for your family as well.

Like any other responsible adult, you might be worried about losing your job because of your stint at rehab. If you are wondering if alcohol rehab qualifies for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), then you have come to the right page. Here, you will learn more about FMLA coverage – and if it extends to alcohol rehab.

What is FMLA?

According to the US Department of Labor, FMLA guarantees eligible workers of covered employers to undergo an unpaid, job-protected hiatus for family and medical reasons. This ensures the employee continued health insurance as if he/she has not taken a leave of absence. 

Under the FMLA, an individual can take a leave of 12 work weeks (in a year) for the following reasons:

  • A serious health problem that renders the employee unable to perform job functions
  • To prepare for the birth of a child or to take care of a newborn delivered within a year
  • To look after a child received via adoption or foster care or  to take care of the said child within 1 year of placement
  • To care for a spouse, child, or parent who suffers from a serious medical condition
  • To meet the demands for the employee’s spouse, parent, or child who is on military/active duty 

The FMLA also guarantees a 26-week leave within 12 months for military caregiver leave. This enables the employee to care for a spouse, child, or parent who is ill/injured due to active service.

Who is Entitled to an FMLA?

As has been mentioned, you must be working for a covered employer. This means that you should be employed at any of the following:

  • A private-sector company with 50 or more employees working for 20 weeks or more
  • Any state, federal, or local agency
  • Any public/private school 

Apart from working for a covered employer, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Have worked for 12 months or more (even non-consecutively)
  • Have been employed for 1,250 hours
  • Have worked for a company where employees are living within 75 miles of the establishment
How Alcohol Treatment Works

Does Alcohol Rehab Qualify for FMLA?


Alcoholism is considered a serious health condition that renders the employee unfit to perform his job. The Department of Health and Human Services even considers this a disease of the brain. After all, it is long-lasting and tends to come back again and again. 

Alcohol addiction gets in the way of one’s job is because of its effects on the body – and the mind. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, it can impair motor coordination and physical control. It can affect sound since it can cloud one’s memory and decision-making skills. It dulls one’s ability to recognize danger, as it can make him exhibit unsafe, inappropriate, and aggressive behavior. In the long run, alcoholism can affect learning and processing as well.

Whether you are a white-collar or blue-collar employee, the above-mentioned incapacities can have a huge impact on your work. 

If alcoholism has been your problem for far too long, then a common recommendation is rehab treatment, which can run for a month – or longer. 

The length of treatment may worry you – especially if you are the breadwinner. You may be thinking twice because you might lose your work because of a long rehab stint. Fortunately, as per FMLA rule, you can undergo rehab and still be employed right after. 

An employee who needs to be absent to obtain medical treatment (as is the case for alcohol rehab) in essence, is unable to perform essential job functions. This is exactly one of the statutes of FMLA, meaning alcohol rehab qualifies for the said unpaid leave. 

How to Apply for FMLA

 Once you have expressed your intention of taking an FMLA for alcohol rehab, your employer will give you a request for medical certification, together with your bill of FMLA rights. 

Upon receiving the said notice, it is your responsibility to provide a complete and sufficient certification within 15 calendar days. You need to shoulder any costs for the document, including the delivery to the employer as needed. 

Your certification should contain all these pertinent data:

  • Date condition has started and possible duration
  • Necessary facts about the condition or evidence of medical necessity 
  • Data supporting that the employee is unable to perform his job functions 
  • Health care provider’s contact information 

To ensure the completeness of your certification, you can make use of the WH-380-E form

Should your boss deem your documents to be insufficient, he will ask you to provide additional data. You need to accomplish this within 7 calendar days. Should you fail to present the needed information, your employer has the right to deny your requested leave. 

If your employer remains doubtful of the validity of your leave application, he may obtain a second medical certification from a different health care provider, granted that it is not employed by the company. If the opinion of the second differs from the employee’s first doctor, then the employer may ask the worker to get another certificate from a third physician. This third opinion is deemed final in this case. 

If the need for a second or third opinion should arise, the employer is responsible for paying for the said certifications. This should include the reimbursement of the employee’s travel expenses if any. As the employer awaits these additional papers, the employee is entitled to a provisional FMLA leave.

Should your treatment require you to stay at a rehab facility for more than 30 days, you will need to provide recertification for your employer. This should be done within 15 calendar days, with the cost being shouldered by the employer. 

Once your rehab treatment is done, your health care provider should provide your employer with a “fitness for duty” certification. This should come out of your pocket. 

Once the certification has been accepted, you are free to resume your job. 

Latest posts by Raychel Ria Agramon, BSN, RN, MPM (see all)

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