Can I Lose My Job if I Go to Rehab?

July 16, 2020

People who are considering rehab are often worried about the consequences of substance abuse on their careers. In a lot of cases, people may not seek out appropriate treatment because they are concerned that taking time off may have a negative effect on their job. The fear of losing their job and their income can be very stressful. However, there are federal laws in place to help individuals with substance abuse issues.This will come as a great relief for individuals suffering from substance abuse. The laws in place will help to protect your job while you are seeking appropriate treatment or entering into rehab. Read on to learn more about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and how it can take away some of the external stresses of entering rehab.A Quick Introduction to the FMLAThe Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was introduced in 1993. One of the key provisions of this act is twelve weeks of unpaid and job-protected leave per year. Under this act, employees can take medical leave if they are unable to work due to a severe medical condition. The FMLA covers all employees that work in the public sector, public and private elementary and secondary schools, and private companies with more than fifty employees.To qualify for FMLA protection, the following conditions must be met:

  • You have worked for the same employer for a period of at least twelve months
  • You have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours
  • You have worked for a company that employs a minimum of fifty employees

FMLA covers substance abuse if the conditions above are met. However, for job protection to be covered, employees will need to declare the nature of their substance abuse. It is vital that you notify your employer before entering rehab to ensure that you qualify for coverage.In some cases, employees might not qualify for FMLA coverage if the company has an established drug and alcohol policy, which states that contracts may be terminated for drug and alcohol-related issues.Why Does FMLA Cover Substance Abuse?FMLA protects employees who have severe medical conditions that stop them from going to work. Substance abuse of any kind is a severe condition that can have an emotional and physical impact on the individual. As a result, they are often unable to perform at their best, which can lead to sick days, accidents, and poor productivity. All of these things can cause problems for employers and work colleagues. Federal laws cover substance abuse because of its debilitating nature and its massive effect on individuals, families, and businesses. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017, substance abuse issues were estimated to have cost the United States more than $740 million, and the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that over 19.7 million adults were dealing with a substance abuse issue in 2017, with alcohol being a leading cause of addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recently reported that over 16.6 million adults have alcohol-related problems, of which 10.8 million are men. Therefore, it is vital that there are treatment options available to individuals seeking help.What Happens if I Don't Qualify for FMLA?While FMLA provides extensive coverage for many employees throughout the United States, some individuals may not qualify if they work for smaller companies or have only worked for an employer for a short period of time.The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provides provision for recovering addicts who wish to continue treatment. It differs from the FMLA in that it covers smaller employers and will only cover employees that are not currently using alcohol or illicit substances. Under this act, employers can grant employees time off for treatment or make changes to schedules to allow them to attend treatment appointments or meetings. It is important to note that if an individual has performance issues related to substance abuse or is found to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol at work, they will not be covered by this legislation.What Should I Do if I Need Treatment?If you have already acknowledged that you have a problem, then you have already started on the path to recovery. When you decide that you are ready for treatment, you must talk to your employer about your substance abuse issues. While you might be concerned about the possibility of stigma or job loss, it is essential that you initiate the conversation. If your employer confronts you regarding performance issues, they may order a drug test, which could mean that you are in breach of contract. If this happens, you may not be covered by this legislation.Take the time to research your employer's alcohol and drug policies and determine whether you qualify for federal support such as the FMLA. Once you have done that, you should approach your boss and be upfront about your issues. Make them aware of your struggles and inform them that you are seeking treatment. From there, you can discuss your options and put a plan of action in place. Rest assured that federal laws require that your employer keeps your substance abuse problems confidential. Next StepsOnce you are ready to start treatment, you’ll need to find the best option for you. Many individuals struggling with substance abuse choose to enter a rehab facility. Here at The Last Resort, we offer specialized programs that will help clients deal with their current problems and find strategies to help them lead a full and sober life as they take their next steps.If you or a loved one needs help with addiction, contact us today to see how we can help.

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