When you’ve made a decision to seek rehab for drug or alcohol dependence, you’ve made the first step in a journey to take back your life and achieve lasting sobriety. However, if you’re like more adults, you have a job and responsibilities that you may be unable to leave behind. Finding the right way to talk to your employer about going to rehab can be tricky if you don’t know your rights.
Telling Your Employer You are Going To Rehab
Prepare yourself for this conversation the same way that you’d prepare for an interview. Rehearse what you say, and anticipate questions your boss will ask. When you have answers prepared, you’ll be able to confidently handle the conversation.
Here are some tips that can help you with this conversation:
- Be prepared by looking at your company handbook about substance abuse and treatment. If your company doesn’t have a policy stated about job security for people who have medical detox or rehab, then you may be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- Be honest with your boss. They may have already noted something is amiss – in fact, many addicts state that their addiction has begun to impact their work already.
- Don’t let thoughts of negative repercussions affect your decision to seek treatment. In fact, if you keep working while you’re drinking or using drugs, you may have more negative consequences like being written up or other demerits.
- Know your rights. Talk to an EEOC representative in your area about how you can use FMLA for job security.
- Make a preparation plan for who will handle your responsibilities while you’re away at rehab. Try to get ahead on some of your projects, and present your boss with a plan for ensuring coverage for your duties.
Again, your addiction may not be a secret. Your boss may have noticed that you came into work hungover or that you might have been drinking or using drugs secretly at work. And, don’t avoid the conversation with your boss. You should be protected under FMLA. Many employers want the best for their employees, and one working on sobriety is a more valuable and productive than someone in active addiction. However, you may ask your boss to keep the reason for your leave of absence discreet.
FMLA Protection For Substance Abuse Recovery
FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave either because of your own serious health concerns or to care for a child, parent, or spouse. It also provides job protection for people who have a serious health condition that makes them unable to perform the essential duties and responsibilities of their job.
Addiction is a serious disease. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) defines Substance Abuse Disorder (SAD) as a mental health concern. Your boss is not allowed to discriminate against you for seeking addiction treatment. However, your employer likely has strict policies against drinking or using drugs on the job. If you’re using while working, then your employer will have a valid reason to fire you.
Do You Need Substance Abuse Treatment?
If your drug or alcohol use has been affecting your ability to work or go to school, or if you’re concerned about your drug or alcohol use, we can help. Contact Hickory Treatment Centers today for a confidential assessment.