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Can I Lose My Job If I Go to Addiction Treatment? - Momentum Recovery

Can I Lose My Job If I Go to Addiction Treatment?

Can I Lose My Job If I Go to Addiction Treatment? - Momentum Recovery

Managing to keep your job while dealing with an addiction is a significant accomplishment. In fact, your job might have helped you to avoid hitting rock bottom since you knew people depended upon you to meet your responsibilities. You also might have just started a new job and know that getting sober is the only way to keep it. No matter where you are in your career, maintaining your position is essential for helping you transition into sobriety with the income you need to maintain a home, raise children, and pay for your other needs. You may even need to ensure that you keep your job to cover your drug and alcohol treatment. Suppose you’re wondering, “Can my employer fire me for going to rehab?”. In that case, you can rest assured that there are legal protections in place along with strategies that you can use to get treatment without worrying about your livelihood.

How Does the Family Medical Leave Act Help With Going to Addiction Treatment?

The Family Medical Leave Act is many people’s best option for handling concerns about job security while they seek treatment. Under this Act, you are eligible to receive 12 weeks of unpaid time off for medical conditions. Substance abuse is considered a medical condition that the FMLA covers. You may qualify for this option if you meet the following requirements.

  • The company has officially employed you for 12 months or more
  • You’ve worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months
  • Your place of employment employs at least 50 or more workers who perform their duties within a 75-mile radius

How to Go to Treatment and Keep Your Job When You’re Not Eligible for FMLA

In some cases, you may not be eligible to use the FMLA benefits. For example, you might be trying to keep a new job that you have only been at for a few months. You might also be an independent contractor or work for a smaller company. If you can’t use FMLA benefits to go to addiction treatment, you still have several options for holding your position. Many companies include special provisions for employees to take time off for medical care. Reaching out to your employer’s Human Resources department could reveal alternative ways to keep your job. You may also still be protected from facing repercussions for seeking substance abuse treatment under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Can My Employer Fire Me for Going to Treatment?

The Americans With Disabilities Act protects any employee with a disability, and substance abuse qualifies as a disabling condition. However, there is some confusion regarding this law. An employer does have the right to fire you if you are caught using drugs or alcohol while on the job or if being inebriated affects your performance or impacts workplace safety.

When you go to treatment, job security is protected under the ADA guidelines if you seek treatment. For example, an employer who discovers that you are using your vacation time to seek treatment can’t fire you for choosing to get help with your addiction since it is considered a disability.

Will My Employer-Based Health Insurance Cover Treatment?

If you take time off from work under the FMLA, your employer must maintain your existing group health benefits throughout your leave. If you fail to return to work according to your agreement, your benefits may stop. In this case, you may be eligible to use COBRA coverage to extend your benefits by paying for your plan for a limited period.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act adds further protections to ensure that your health insurance provides coverage for treatment. Under MHPAEA, mental health and addiction treatments must be treated in the same way that physical health issues are covered. The Affordable Care Act also clarifies that addiction treatment must be included as an essential health benefit. This means that you should expect your employer-based insurance to have some level of coverage for your treatment.

Can My Employer Tell Other People Why I’m On Leave?

The amount of information that you have to provide an employer depends upon several factors. For instance, you may not have to tell them anything about your treatment if you have vacation time available that you can take. If you need to tell your employer about why you need time off, you may be able to discreetly explain that you need to take leave to treat a health condition. An employer that knows about your addiction treatment is still bound by privacy laws that protect your personal information. You can expect that only the people who need to know and that you authorize information will know why you are taking a leave of absence.

Although you might need to take a temporary leave of absence from your job, you shouldn’t have to lose it. Just make sure to follow the appropriate steps to request your leave and let your supervisor know when you expect to be back. If you aren’t protected under the FMLA, talking to your company’s Human Resources department or your manager can help you learn how to go to rehab and keep your job. Taking the time to plan for your treatment carefully allows you to be ready to step back into your position when the time is right.