Treatment Professional - Addiction Recovery

Can I Be Fired from My Job if I Go into Treatment?

Know your rights! You can’t be fired for seeking treatment at an addiction center. Read our blog to learn more about attending an addiction center.

Can I Be Fired from My Job if I Go into Treatment?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

July 14, 2022

The Forge Recovery Center

Recovering from a substance abuse disorder (SUD) is a process of self-discovery and a journey toward well-being in all areas of life. It can also be challenging as you face cravings, burnout, and the adjustment to life without drugs or alcohol.

These stresses can be exacerbated if you are worried about how seeking treatment may affect your job.

Knowing you have a job waiting for you after you finish recovery can help you feel safe and stable while seeking treatment. Fortunately, if you properly communicate with your employer and follow appropriate protocols, you should be protected from losing your job if you choose to seek treatment at an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility.

Talking To Your Employer

Although it may be uncomfortable to talk to your employer about needing to seek treatment for your SUD, it is a necessary step to ensure you keep your job while you are in treatment.

It is also important to remember that if you avoid or postpone seeking help for your SUD, it will likely begin to affect your work and may even cost you your job. Coming forward with your struggles is the best way to remain financially stable and ensure your employment is not terminated while you are in rehab.

When speaking with your employer, you may find they are willing to accommodate your need to seek treatment without filling out any paperwork. If they are not willing to work with you, you may be covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

What Is FMLA?

The Family Medical Leave Act was passed in 1993 to protect employees from being fired when you or your family member is experiencing a medical emergency requiring you to step away from your job. SUDs fall under the category of mental illnesses that qualify you for protection under FMLA. 

Under FMLA, you can take three months off work without fear of being fired. Although FMLA leave is unpaid, your employer cannot terminate your benefits while on FMLA, meaning you will still have access to your health insurance. Luckily, most inpatient treatment programs last from thirty to ninety days. Depending on the length of stay at the inpatient program you pick, you may be able to detox and have time to recover afterward before your FMLA coverage expires.

Do I Qualify for FMLA?

Aside from having a SUD, you must meet other qualifications to be protected under FMLA. You must have worked for your employer for at least a year, worked for a minimum of 1,250 hours, and the company must have fifty or more employees. If you and the company you work for meets these requirements, you qualify for FLMA.

You must request FMLA and fill out the formal paperwork before taking your leave. If you do not go through proper channels and you leave without requesting FMLA, you can be terminated from your job. 

I Don’t Qualify for FMLA. What’s Next?

Even if you do not qualify for FMLA, your employment is still protected by law while you are seeking treatment. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you cannot be fired for choosing to go to rehab. Although, you may need to use paid vacation time while you are in rehab if you do not qualify for FMLA.

If your employer does fire you for seeking treatment at a rehab facility, you can file a complaint against them, and you will more than likely be able to get your job back. If you are still worried about losing your job by going to rehab, you can speak with an admissions counselor at the facility you are planning to attend. They will be able to walk you through the process and provide you with the best options for you to keep your job while getting the help you need to recover.

There is no need to let worry about your job prevent you from seeking treatment as early as possible. If your SUD is left untreated to the point that you get caught using drugs or alcohol at work, your job is not protected, and you can be fired.

Additional Options

If you have spoken with an admissions counselor at an inpatient treatment facility and it still does not feel like a feasible option, you may consider outpatient rehab. In an outpatient rehab facility, you will still receive medications and therapy to help you overcome your SUD while having time to attend to other personal responsibilities, including work.

Outpatient treatment facilities are part-time, and they will allow you to work around your schedule and continue to earn an income while you seek treatment. There are in-person outpatient programs as well as telehealth options, which may be ideal for those who live in rural areas or have schedules that cannot accommodate traveling to an in-person facility.

The Forge Recovery Center Offers Stress-Free Substance Abuse Treatment

At The Forge Recovery Center, we know that going through recovery is a journey to greater stability and well-being in all areas of life. However, we understand how stressful entering into treatment can be, especially if you are worried about finances or your job.

Our staff is not only experienced in providing scientifically based treatments and therapies that can help you overcome your substance use disorder; we are also experts when it comes to helping people navigate employment barriers when beginning treatment. We believe that everyone should know their rights and not let concerns about employment prevent them from receiving care.

If you have questions about your treatment options and the steps you need to take to avoid losing your job, contact The Forge Recovery Center today.

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