Addictions and substance abuse can have negative impacts on your personal and professional life. If you feel like your addiction is affecting your work performance and fear you may lose your job because of this, it’s recommended to seek treatment at a rehab facility.
Although uncommon, it is possible to go to rehab and keep your job. Some existing laws and acts prevent employers from firing employees seeking treatment. Communication with your employer and learning how to keep your job are two critical factors to consider before heading for treatment.
Preparing to Go to Rehab When You Have a Job
Before you go to rehab, it is vital to let your company know why you are taking a leave of absence. You will probably not be required to go too much into details, but it’s better if they know in advance and avoid any unnecessary hassles.
Speaking With HR
The first step you should take is talking with the human resources department in your company. Be honest about your situation, it can be beneficial to be proactive and open about the process.
You will probably be required to make necessary arrangements with the HR team like complying with treatment recommendations, providing reports, submitting tests, and keeping a good work performance.
Talk to Your Boss or Supervisor
If you find it necessary, you can then talk with your direct boss or manager. Even if they know after talking with HR, they might be more supportive of this process if they hear it from you. If your boss feels like you are hiding your situation from them, they might take a defensive and negative stance with you.
During this conversation, your manager can express their concerns about your future work performance or your balance with your personal life. Depending on what kind of relationship you may have with your superiors, having an honest conversation could help you in the future when you return from rehab.
You may receive related questions from your coworkers before or after you receive treatment. Keep in mind that you are not required to provide any answers or explanations. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it, you can always let them know how you feel and set boundaries.
Also note that if you feel pressured to talk about it, you can always check with HR for help handling the situation.
Can You Get Fired for Getting Treatment?
From a legal point of view, you should not get fired from seeking treatment for substance abuse diseases.
If you do get fired, there are legal ways to defend yourself and keep your job. There are two key pieces of federal legislation you should know about if you get fired: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Drug or alcohol abuse and mental health disorders are considered a disability, so the Americans with Disabilities Act has been created to protect people from workplace discrimination to keep them from having any issues finding future jobs.
The Family Medical Leave Act is related to how many weeks of unpaid work a rehab patient can have if they require checking into a rehab center. The FMLA can provide up to 12 weeks for employees who require different medical needs, including substance addiction treatment.
Find more information on how you can qualify for either act since there are different conditions a person should meet. Also, talk with a human resources representative from your company to confirm how to keep your job before embarking on your recovery journey.
The Employee Assistance Program
According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), “EAP addresses a broad and complex body of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being, such as alcohol and other substance abuse, stress, grief, family problems, and psychological disorders.”
Rehab Options While Working
Outpatient rehab is more suited for professionals who can’t afford to miss work or have a more flexible approach to their treatment. Outpatient consists of patients visiting treatment centers 2-3 times a week for a few hours. The idea is that their treatment does not disrupt their working routine. Patients will still be subject to a regular test to check their progress.
If you or someone you know is dealing with substance use disorder and trying to seek treatment while maintaining employment, contact a rehab center near you to learn more about their programs. Addiction recovery is possible. With programs like EAP and ADA, seeking addiction treatment while maintaining your job can be possible.