Can You Get Fired for Going to Rehab?

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Deciding to get help for your alcohol or drug addiction is a major step. However, many people in this position have concerns about losing their job if they enter a residential rehab program. It’s natural to wonder “can you get fired for going to rehab?”

Understanding Medical Leave

The last thing you want to worry about when starting rehab is to return home and find out you no longer have a job. Losing a job can be very stressful by itself. To answer the question, “Can you get fired for going to rehab?” It’s good to know what factors will be helpful when telling your boss that you need to get into treatment.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal employment act that prevents employers from firing full-time employees when they take a medical leave from work. Only companies that employ more than fifty employees are required to adhere to the FMLA. 

So, if you work for an employer full-time and there are more than fifty employees, you can take up to twelve weeks of unpaid medical leave to go to rehab. If you have cut back your hours and you work part-time for a company with more than fifty employees, you may still qualify for FMLA if you have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours in the previous twelve-month period. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is a federal act that affords certain rights to those with disabilities. Addiction disorders are considered medical disorders.

There is an important distinction between FMLA and ADA. The ADA allows you to use sick time, personal time, and vacation time to cover time you need to take off from work. However, the ADA does not provide for additional time off — though it does provide an option if you work part-time or at a company with fifty or fewer employees.

If you do not have enough time to cover the time you would need to enter residential treatment, it may be worth talking to your human resource department to see what options are available to you.

Employer-Sponsored Rehab

Some employers encourage employees that are struggling with addiction to complete a rehab treatment program. To find out if your employer has such a program, you should review the medical and health benefits offered by your employer. Alternatively, you could inquire with your human resources department and ask them to go over the current medical and health benefits being offered without directly asking about rehab. This way, you are not “outing” yourself as needing to go to rehab. 

Keep in mind, if your employer does encourage rehab, you may or may not be paid for the time you need to be off work. However, having the peace of mind knowing you still have a job is more important as it allows you to focus on your recovery. 

Important Considerations About Addiction and the Workplace

Living with addiction can impact your entire life. Certain situations could arise where your employer could legally fire you from your job whether you have an substance abuse problem or not, as follows:

  • You show up to work drunk, high, or under the influence of substances.
  • Your addiction is causing you to miss an excessive amount of work.
  • Your job performance has declined and is not meeting job-mandated levels. 
  • You caused an accident at work where you or other employees were injured. 
  • You tested positive on a drug and alcohol screening test after causing an accident at work. 
  • You are caught drinking or using drugs while on the job. 
  • You become physically aggressive with other employees. 

What If I Work for a Small Business?

Unfortunately, small businesses are not required to adhere to the FMLA. However, they are required to adhere to the ADA. If you work for a small business and wonder, “can you get fired for going to rehab?” it’s important to understand how you’re covered.

Most small business owners know their employees very well. As a result, your employer may already suspect you are struggling with a substance abuse problem and may likely work with you to get you the help that you need. So, when you are ready to begin your recovery journey, it is worth the effort to discuss with your boss taking a leave to complete a residential treatment program. Your employer may surprise you and allow you to keep your job. 

Addiction Treatment in Pennsylvania

At DreamLife Recovery, we understand that entering residential treatment isn’t just as simple as picking up the phone. There are many factors to considering, from home to work. Our caring and professional intake specialists are available to answer your questions about our residential treatment options and programs.  

We are also happy to offer advice on talking to your employer about entering into residential treatment in Pennsylvania To find out more, please feel free to call us at (844) 402-3592 directly or contact us today!