The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for employees who qualify. Fortunately for those living with addiction, drug rehab treatment is one of the many covered situations. Of course, this doesn’t make it less awkward to approach your employer. This often leaves people asking how to ask for FMLA.
Luckily, the Department of Labor offers detailed instructions on how to do just that. While they may not focus on addiction treatment, the rules that apply for any other illness or family issue apply here. Keep the following tips on how to ask for FMLA leave in mind, and you should be safe to take unpaid time off from work.
How to Ask for FMLA — A Step-by-Step Process
If you need treatment for addiction, the most important step you can take is getting started on FMLA immediately. The sooner you act, the sooner you can take time off work. And the sooner that happens, the sooner you can take your life back. Follow these steps to request FMLA for addiction treatment, and you’ll be on your way to recovery.
- Speak to your physician: To receive protection under the FMLA, you must have a diagnosable condition. And since your employer may request medical certification, it’s ideal to start out by speaking with your doctor.
- Notify your employer as soon as possible: If you can provide 30 days’ notice to your employer, it will give them an opportunity to cover your shifts. If this isn’t possible — such as when you need to start treatment immediately — you should inform your employer the moment you know you’ll need leave.
- Let employer know your FMLA protections: It’s not necessary to divulge the fact that you’re dealing with addiction. You don’t even have to mention FMLA to your employer, but it is helpful to do so. They should know the rules regarding this leave. This means you need to provide enough information to let them know your leave qualifies under FMLA.
- Wait for eligibility notice: Your employer must provide an eligibility notice within five business days of your request. This will let you know whether you’re FMLA eligible, whether you need to provide additional information, and your rights and responsibilities under the law.
- Continue communication: Your employer may require you to provide periodic updates about your treatment status and when you may return to work.
The eligibility notice from your employer should also let you know whether you have to use your paid leave. Language within the notice will also state your right to return to work after treatment.
In addition to your job protections, knowing how to ask for FMLA protection can also safeguard your employer health insurance. This is especially important when seeking addiction treatment. Your treatment could potentially last for months, so having health insurance is vital. If you have questions regarding continued coverage, contact us at Olympus Recovery today.
How to Ask for FMLA Medical Certification
When you request FMLA leave from your employer, they may ask for medical certification. If this is the case, you have 15 days to provide it or they could reject your request. This means you need to visit your doctor immediately. Your physician likely already knows what needs to go in the certification. If you’re wondering what’s needed, though, you must get the following information:
- Your healthcare provider’s contact information
- When your health condition began
- How long the doctor expects your condition to last
- Medical facts about the condition (e.g., symptoms, doctor visits, referrals)
- If you’re unable to work or a loved one needs care
- Whether your leave will be intermittent or continuous
If your FMLA medical certification is missing any information, your employer may request further documentation. They can also request that you seek a second — or even third — opinion, but they must cover these expenses. Make sure you discuss with any physician the fact that you want to keep your medical information as private as possible.
Still Need Help on How to Ask for FMLA? Call Us
Even though 20 million people take FMLA leave yearly, most employees still feel awkward when approaching their boss. This guide has provided several steps to simplify the process for you, but it’s understandable if you still have questions. There’s no shame in being concerned about your ability to earn a living.
At Olympus Recovery, we want to make sure you have every resource you need for recovery. In most cases, this includes gainful employment. If you’re concerned about how to ask for FMLA and protect your job, our counselors are on standby to assist you. Contact us today to learn how we can help you navigate your rights under the FMLA.
Center for American Progress
Department of Labor