The Family Medical Leave Act and other legal protections can provide you with peace of mind that you won’t lose your job just for going to rehab.

One of the most common questions people have about seeking treatment for a substance use disorder is, “Will I lose my job if I go to rehab?” While each situation is different, in many instances, there are legal protections that prevent you from losing your job for taking time off from work for treatment. If you follow the law and workplace policy, there are avenues for you to seek treatment while keeping your job. 

Can You Get Fired For Going To Rehab?

It’s understandable that you might be worried about losing your job if you’re considering taking time off from work to go to rehab. If you follow established workplace procedures for taking medical leave, you may not be fired for going to rehab by itself. You can certainly be fired if substance misuse interferes with your ability to perform your job or violates a workplace policy, but going to rehab on your own time shouldn’t be grounds for losing your job. 

Your Rights As An Employee

There are various laws that protect your job should you choose to seek rehab. If you qualify for protection under these laws, they offer the opportunity to take medical leave without the fear of being fired. If you have additional questions about the specifics of these laws, it’s important to consult with a human resources representative or legal counsel. 

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) grants job-protected leave to allow employees to seek treatment for a medical condition. While leave taken under this law is unpaid, it allows an employee to continue to receive health insurance benefits, and they can take up to 12 weeks of leave per year while still keeping their jobs. 

An addiction or substance use disorder can qualify for leave under FMLA. This means that you can take up to 12 weeks of leave per year for treatment of a substance use disorder, and your job will be protected. However, FMLA does not protect you from losing your job if you have violated a workplace policy pertaining to substance misuse. It’s important to follow the proper workplace policies and procedures. 

It’s important to note that not everyone qualifies for FMLA. To be eligible to take leave under the FMLA, you must work for a covered employer at a location with 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius and have worked at least 1,250 hours over 12 months with the employer. 

Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act stipulates that coverage for behavioral health conditions, including substance misuse, must be equal to coverage offered for physical health conditions. This means that copays, deductibles and limits on services cannot be more restrictive for behavioral health care. While this law does not require insurance companies to cover behavioral health services, it does mandate that your insurance provider offer equal coverage for addiction treatment, if it chooses to cover this service. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that people with disabilities do not experience discrimination in the workplace. Drug and alcohol addiction can be protected disabilities under this law. It is important to understand that while ADA does protect both current and past users of alcohol, it states that protections for drug addiction only apply if a person is in recovery and not currently using illegal drugs. 

How To Tell Your Employer That You’re Going To Rehab

If you need to take time off from work for rehab, you’ll have to tell your employer of your intent to take a leave of absence. You do not need to tell them the specifics of your experience with substance misuse, but you will need to provide documentation from a medical provider showing that taking time off is medically necessary.

If you’d rather remain rather private about the situation, it might be beneficial to simply tell your employer that you’d like to take FMLA leave to address a qualified behavioral health condition. 

Going Back To Work After Treatment

If you follow the correct procedures to take leave under FMLA, you can return to work after treatment. You may be required to submit a certification from your treatment center or a doctor stating that you are fit to return to work. Once you’re cleared to return, you’ll be able to resume your usual job or an equivalent job. 

Can You Work While In Treatment?

Some people choose not to take a leave of absence from work while seeking addiction treatment. If you choose an outpatient program, it is possible to continue working while in treatment. Outpatient programs allow you to live at home and continue to fulfill duties, such as working or caring for family, while attending appointments at a treatment center.

While outpatient care is a suitable option for some people, for those who have a more severe addiction, residential rehab may be a better fit. Sometimes, it can be difficult to stay engaged in treatment while living at home. Stressors, such as workplace issues, can also be a trigger for substance misuse. If you struggle to stay committed to treatment while living at home, you may benefit from taking time off from work for rehab, so you can participate in a residential program that provides around-the-clock care.  

Get The Help You Need Today

If you’re exploring options, such as using FMLA for rehab, The Recovery Village Atlanta is here to help. We offer a range of treatment options, including medical detox, residential and aftercare programming. We can also assist you in securing FMLA leave and planning for your rehab stay. 

It’s time to get your life back. Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions and start your admission

The Recovery Village - Atlanta
By – The Recovery Village Atlanta
The Recovery Village Atlanta builds tailored treatment plans with an understanding that addiction is a mental health disorder and a chronic disease. Read more
Melissa-Carmona-1
Editor – Melissa Carmona
As the content manager at Advanced Recovery Systems, Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
Jenni-Jacobsen
Medically Reviewed By – Jenni Jacobsen, LSW
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker through the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. She has seven years of experience working in the social work field, working with clients with addiction-related and mental health diagnoses. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village Atlanta aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.