Do I Have to Tell My Employer I'm Going to Drug Rehab?
If you are currently looking into drug and alcohol addiction treatment, one of your biggest concerns may be your co-workers or boss's reaction or judgment and how that will affect your job. This can cause you to wonder whether or not you have to tell your employer about entering drug rehab.
Different situations have different answers to this question, and there are reasons to and other reasons not to disclose the fact that you're getting treatment.
Protection Under the Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) serves to protect you from being fired from your current job while attending drug rehab. This protection guarantees you safety if you do decide to tell and gives you the option to keep the information about your rehab process from your employer if you so choose.
The FMLA does legally give employers the right to ask for documentation from a medical provider to prove attendance in drug rehab. However, it does not have to describe everything. A bare minimum “yes or no” statement from a doctor about your need for treatment will suffice.
On the other hand, you are not required to disclose to your employer your condition, per the FMLA. If you do choose to discuss your treatment with your employer, they are required to keep the information confidential; you do not have to worry about information getting out to your co-workers if you don't want it to.
Protection Under the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with disabilities from being discriminated against in the workplace. This act protects you from being fired or denied employment for a past addiction if you have successfully received treatment.
Protection under the ADA allows you to request specific accommodations from your employer. This can include creating a modified timetable to work around your treatment schedule. To receive these accommodations, you will need to provide documentation of treatment schedules for proof.
Look Into Company Policies
It is important to also check your employee handbook because your current employer may already have policies in place for situations involving addiction and treatment. If this is the case, your employer's policies may supersede the FMLA or ADA. This is only if the company's policies have criteria that can overrule these protections. Also, inquire about your company's stance on disability leave.
How Do I Talk to My Employer?
Opening up to anyone about a drug or alcohol addiction is hard. It can be even scarier when you must talk with your employer because of fear of judgment or even termination. Luckily, it seems that today more and more people are becoming educated on drug addiction, which is comforting because this could mean a better, more recovery-supportive environment with your boss and co-workers.
The best way to combat or reduce the fear of judgment and stigma is to be prepared. Here are some other steps you can take:
Understand your legal rights:
Understanding your rights can make it easier to ask for the help you need and get everything in order in a timely manner
It can be beneficial to have a treatment plan already in place so you can present this to your boss and give them more trust and confidence in you
Talk to your boss before co-workers:
Avoid confiding in any co-workers before your boss to mitigate gossip in the workplace and so your employer hears the news from you before anyone else
Being honest with your boss is one of the best steps you can take; having them understand why you are going to treatment will make you a better employee and overall asset to the company
How to Keep Your Information Private
If you are feeling especially nervous about your employer or co-workers finding out about your treatment or even the fact that you are struggling with substance use disorder, there are a few options for you. If you would like to completely keep your treatment private, you can use your paid vacation days to attend treatment. This way, no information has to be disclosed to your employer or co-workers unless you choose to do so.
Another option is to attend outpatient treatment. This is more flexible than inpatient treatment because you have the freedom to live at home and attend treatment after work. At The Edge Treatment Center, we offer an intensive outpatient program focused on learning life skills, independent living, and maintaining healthy, positive relationships. You will have the opportunity to learn about relapse prevention to ensure a lifelong recovery while also having time for work and other daily responsibilities.
Flexibility is Key at The Edge Treatment Center
Navigating the correct steps when entering rehab can be difficult no matter what stage you are in. Worrying over your job can make this transition even harder.
The good news is that The Edge Treatment Center is here to guide you and inform you of all your options. Telling your current employer or loved one that you're starting treatment can be daunting. With us, you are not alone in this process, and you have support and certain protections to make sure you receive successful treatment.
If you’d like to know more about our flexible programming or just want advice on how to approach this subject, feel free to contact our team.