If you have decided to begin rehab, you may be worried about how it could affect your job or career. Many people struggle with this question. Others even avoid seeking treatment for fear of losing their job or experiencing stigma at work. However, if you are more informed about the federal laws and workplace anti-discrimination policies that protect you when seeking treatment, these concerns can be dispelled.
Know Your Rights When It Comes to Working During Recovery
Many federal laws protect your right to keep your job while in recovery. For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows for 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for you to engage in treatment for serious health conditions. Treatment for addiction is included in this category.
You are also protected from workplace discrimination at your current and future jobs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Once you are in recovery, your past addiction is considered a disability that cannot be held against you at work. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 also protects employees from discrimination of this nature.
Additionally, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) ensures that employees have control over who has access to their health information and with whom they choose to disclose it.
Research Workplace Assistance Options Before Speaking to Your Employer
It is wise to refer to any employee handbooks or other company policy documents before you approach your employer about the issue of rehab. Some companies have specific protocols in place for these types of situations. In some states, there are additional acts and protections in place that require employers to support rehab.
Explore whether your workplace offers Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) to help workers with substance use disorder (SUD) and mental health issues. These programs often have preferred or trusted providers that offer treatment in-network with your employer-provided insurance plan. You can also potentially get recommendations directly through your health insurance. Check with them to see which types of treatment and rehab facilities are covered.
Deciding on Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab
Another important step is to decide whether you need to go for full-time inpatient residential rehab or outpatient rehab. During an FMLA-protected leave, residential rehab may offer the best care to recover from addiction. If you have a less severe addiction, you may consider outpatient rehab, which allows more flexibility around your work hours.
You do not need to share any private health-related details with your employer before you research these options and make decisions about levels of treatment. However, once you have completed these steps and the time comes to speak with your employer about potentially taking leave to attend rehab, showing what you have considered can help them see your commitment to recovery.
Speaking With Your Employer About Rehab
Once you have completed all the above groundwork, it is time to approach your employer about rehab. Many people find this difficult because there are so many unknowns. Be prepared and proactive because taking time off work to achieve sobriety concerns both your health and career. You can work with experienced interventionists to prepare for this conversation.
When you are ready, first have a conversation with your direct supervisor or the HR department. It is important to be honest about your situation and frame this decision as a proactive endeavor to get better and improve work productivity. Have a rehab treatment plan ready so that they can see how serious you are and that it will be an asset to the company, even though you’re having to step back for a time.
Most employers may ask you to fill out some paperwork regarding unpaid time off under FMLA. They may also have a return-to-work agreement for you to sign. You must comply with all terms to return to the job following rehab.
Rallying Support From Coworkers
It is your personal decision whether or not to tell your colleagues about rehab. If you plan to begin residential rehab and other coworkers need to share your workload, you may need to have a conversation with them specifically. When they ask you about your medical leave, be prepared to address these questions in whatever way is most comfortable for you. Do not share your plans with coworkers before you do so with your employer. This ensures that your employer hears about this first from you, not from other coworkers.
Given the prevalence of SUD in the workforce, many companies have raised awareness about nurturing a recovery-supportive working environment. If you work for a company where SUD is openly discussed, you may be able to share more details with your coworkers.
Attending a rehab program does not mean that you have to lose your job. There are many protections in place that allow you to keep your current job while you get the help you need. These can be valuable support for working professionals. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our inpatient rehab program helps you navigate the process of keeping your job while embarking on your recovery journey. If you need help approaching your employer about rehab, Laguna Shores Recovery is here. Our health professionals can coach you through this process. We offer treatment plans such as detox, medication, 12-Step groups, and relationship skills coaching to get you on the path to long-lasting recovery. We also offer outpatient programs you can use after finishing residential treatment. Schedule an appointment with us today at Laguna Shores Recovery. Call 866-934-5276 to plan for a new page in life.