FMLA Missouri: Understanding How This Act Can Help You Seek Treatment


In 2018, the Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH) states there were 388,000 adult residents with an addiction. And according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 223,000 adults in Missouri have a mental illness. Almost 70 percent of individuals with a substance use disorder are employed. With these numbers, a lot of people are under the influence at work. The Missouri FMLA laws can protect their job if they seek treatment

What Is the FMLA?

In 1993, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted by the federal government. The FMLA allows employees to take unpaid leave for medical reasons. The act applies to substance use disorder and mental health issues as well. 

The purpose of the FMLA is to give security to an employee with a medical condition. An employee is allowed 12 weeks a year of FMLA time. They keep their health insurance and can return to the same job. 

But understand your FMLA leave is unpaid. However, if you have vacation time or sick days, you may be required to use them. If you use vacation or sick pay, then you are still under protection from the FMLA.

Missouri FMLA Laws

Family Medical Leave Act Infographic

Employers in Missouri and every other state are subject to the Family Medical Leave Act. Many states have additional laws to protect employees. However, Missouri is not one of those states. The Missouri FMLA laws are the same as federal laws. 

In Missouri, companies must comply with FMLA if they have 50+ employees for at least 20 weeks a year. And employees can use FMLA leave if:

  • They have worked there for a minimum of one year.
  • They worked a minimum of 1,250 hours the previous year. 
  • The location they work at has at least 50 employees in a 75-mile radius.

The FMLA Leave Process in Missouri

Navigating the FMLA process in Missouri can be challenging. And, your employer may have their requirements as well. Being familiar with both can make the process smoother.

  1. Notify your employer of the leave
  2. Your employer has five days to notify you of approval or denial
  3. You have 15 days to provide a medical certification to your employer
  4. Your employer again has five days to inform you
  5. If approved, your leave has Missouri FMLA protection. 

Reasons For Taking FMLA in Missouri

The FMLA has given many Americans a sense of security when severe medical conditions arise. But, there is one reason to use FMLA that doesn’t fall under a severe medical condition. It is the birth of a child! Under Missouri FMLA laws, an employee can take leave to bond with a new child. Missouri FMLA laws also allow for leave in the following situations.

  • To recover after a severe health condition.
  • To care for a family member who is sick.
  • To handle qualifying needs that result from a family member’s military service.
  • To care for a family member injured in active duty.

How Much Leave Is Allowed Under Missouri FMLA Laws

Employees need to meet the criteria to take leave through FMLA. If this is achieved, then an employee is guaranteed 12-weeks leave. An employee is allowed 12 weeks a year. But, this renews every year that the employee is eligible.

The Family Medical Leave Act works differently in the military. Employees are allowed 26 weeks to care for a family member injured in active duty. If another member of the same family is injured in active duty, then the same employee can have additional time off. 

How the ADA Protects You When Using the FMLA for Treatment

Every employee fears their boss finding out about their addiction. What if they fire you or treat you differently? Well, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people from discrimination because of a disability. 

The ADA lists what qualifies as a disability. And an addiction qualifies as a disability under this act. But, it isn’t cut and dry, and the ADA can is only useful in certain situations.

If your performance on the job declines due to drug or alcohol use, then you can be fired. And, you are not protected by the ADA if your employer can prove poor job performance. But, if you choose to go to treatment and then get fired, you are protected. The ADA protects employees from their past mistakes due to addiction. 

If you are actively using drugs or alcohol, you do not have protection from the ADA. Once you seek treatment and stop the use of drugs or alcohol, the ADA applies to you. The ADA does not protect you from drug tests. Your employer can test you at any time. So, if you are struggling with addiction, it is vital to seek help immediately.

A Missouri Employer’s Role in the FMLA

Many employers look at the negative of the FMLA. But, the act promotes a healthy workplace and healthy employees. The United States Commission on Civil Rights states that up to 25 percent of Americans are under the influence at work.

Employers who follow the Missouri FMLA laws allow employees to take care of themselves and their recovery. Healthy employees build morale and productivity, and an employer will help save a life. It is essential to be honest with your employer, but you are not required to give personal details about your addiction or mental health issues.

How To Talk to Your Employer About Using the FMLA

You have made the decision, and it is time to start your recovery journey. Whether your recovery journey is an addiction or a mental health recovery, it is essential to tell your employer. The FMLA can’t protect your job if your boss does not know. 

Admitting to your boss that you have an addiction or a mental health issue can be hard. But, if you have a plan, it can make it easier. The following tips can be useful in talking to your employer. 

3 Tips To Telling Your Boss 

  1. Be honest – Your mental or addiction struggles may not be a secret. So be honest. A good boss will be more understanding if you are open. And, they may even help you on your recovery journey. 
  2. Know your rights – It is vital to know your rights under the FMLA. You have the right not to give details about your situation. So, if your boss is not understanding, just state why you are leaving and follow the rules of the FMLA. 
  3. Ask for Confidentiality. It is vital to tell your boss that you would like the reason for leave to be kept a secret. You have the right not to have your business discussed with co-workers. 

An employer has five days to determine eligibility under the FMLA. When they give you approval, they must also give you the requirement for your return. 

If you have a situation where you enter treatment due to an emergency situation, it is vital to contact your employer. The Missouri FMLA laws will still protect you as long as the proper steps are taken. 

Is a Medical Certification Required Under Missouri FMLA Laws?

Medical certification is not a requirement under Missouri FMLA laws. But, your employer may request one. If it is requested, then you have 15 days to get it. A medical certification includes specific information, including:

  • contact information for the treatment provider
  • when the condition began
  • how long the condition will last
  • medical facts about the condition
  • if the leave is continuous or intermittent 

If your certification is missing information, you have seven days to correct this. And if your employer doesn’t believe the certification, they can ask for another one. If this happens, the employer has to pay for the second opinion. 

Returning to Work After FMLA in Missouri

The FMLA requires an employer to provide the same job or one equal to when you left. If you are not returned to the same position, the new job must:

  • Involve similar duties and responsibilities
  • Include the same level of authority
  • Offer equal pay including bonuses and overtime
  • Offer the same benefits
  • Has the same schedule at the same location

But, if you can’t return to work when the Missouri FMLA ends, then your job is not protected. There are special laws for key employees and teachers. So again, it is vital to know all your rights with the FMLA.

What If My Employer Denies My FMLA?

If your employer denies you the FMLA, they must tell you why. You can reapply for the FMLA if you meet the requirements that were missing. But, if you believe you were wrongly denied, you can contact the WHD.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for enforcing the FMLA. You can contact them if you feel your Missouri FMLA rights are being violated. Your employer is not allowed to interfere with your contact with WHD. 

Addiction and Mental Health Treatment At Sana Lake Behavioral Wellness Center

If you are tired of addiction or mental health issues interfering with work, then it’s time to get help. Our trained professionals not only help people in Missouri but across the country as well.

Contact us today and get started on the road to recovery.