One of the main concerns for functional alcoholics and addicts is losing their job if they seek treatment for addiction. Thanks to laws like the FMLA, most employees can get treatment without losing their job. That is important because about 70% or people with drug or alcohol problems are employed according to SAMHSA and NCADD. Further, in a 2012 national survey, SAMHSA found that 9% of the active workforce self-reported that they had a substance abuse problem.
Worrying about losing their job keeps many people from seeking treatment. But without seeking treatment people rarely get better. In fact, they usually get worse. Either their addiction gets so bad it becomes apparent to everyone, or their performance suffers so much their career is forfeit. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Working with an active addiction is the worse way to get ahead in this competitive world. Proactively seeking rehab is your best chance to keep your career on track. Getting fired for cause because of your addiction is the last thing you want on your resume.
How to Talk to Your Employer About Addiction
Unless you have a great relationship and know what you are doing, its probably best to have the conversation with your employer this way: Go to HR and tell them you need to take time off using FMLA for Mental Health reasons. Leave it vague. Your treatment center of choice can handle everything else for you.
Call Executive Recovery Center Now at 1-855-699-5159. We Can Answer All Your Questions About How to Handle Your Specific Employer.
Why is it important to talk to HR and be so round about? Because some employers may try to get rid of you just to avoid hassle and expense. FMLA is your best defense, but you do need to handle the situation right, and FMLA does not apply in every circumstance. Some of the details are below. Call us and we can walk you through everything:
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family Medical Leave Act prohibits employers from firing employees who need to take an extended leave of absence for major physical, and mental illness. This includes addiction. Addiction is listed as a qualifying disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but some rules and restrictions apply.
Some of the restrictions include:
- If the employee is using drugs or alcohol on the work premises, the employer does not have to allow the employee to return.
- If the employee has had their career licenses revoked or suspended due to their addiction, the employer does not have to allow the employee to return.
- If the employee is still under the influence while on duty, the employer does not have to allow the employee to return.
- If the employee continuously misses work due to relapses, the employer does not have to allow the employee to return.
Some of the rules include:
- Prior notice of thirty days before absence: A notice must be given to the employer so they have time to request any documents they may need before approval is granted.
- Proof of addiction from your healthcare provider: Your family doctor and your mental health provider will have to provide records stating that you have an addiction if your employer requests it.
- A second opinion: Your company may require that you get a second opinion. Then you will need to provide records from a second professional source stating that you have an addiction.
- Proof of work readiness: Your employer can require that you have an excuse, or form, stating that you can return to full work duties.
There maybe be other rules you have to follow. Check here for additional information on the Family Medical Leave Act.
If FMLA Doesn’t Apply…
Family Medical Leave Act only applies to employers with more than 50 employees and to employees that have worked there for more than a year. There are more nuances, but those are the basic parameters.
If FMLA does not apply to you, you still may have options. Consider going to your employer proactively. It is risky, but you may be surprised.
If you started your addiction while employed, the employer could probably see the difference in the quality of your work. If they like your work before, they may be willing to hold your job while you get treatment. If you have never had a decline in your work quality, then they still may be willing to hold your job if you have an excellent work history.
Remember, even if you do lose your job, all is not lost. You can still continue your health insurance, and thus cover the cost of rehab, using COBRA.
A New Career After Treatment
When you are in treatment, one of the first things you will be told is that you need to change the persons, places, and things that trigger your addictions. You need to ask yourself honestly if your work environment is part of the problem or part of the solution.
No one wants to lose their job. And certainly, that income and insurance coverage is helpful or even crucial to getting you the treatment you need. But also consider while pursuing treatment a few questions. You need to answer them honestly:
- Is my job so stressful it tempts me to use?
- Are my buddies I use with my co-workers?
- Is this a dead end job that I only have because my addiction keeps me from getting a better one?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you may need to consider changing your job as part of your long-term successful recovery strategy.
Get Addiction Help Now
Addiction can be deadly. For this reason, don’t wait. By waiting, you have more to lose than just your job. Family connections, relationships, health, happiness, money and more can be lost. You are even putting the health and safety of the people around you at risk while you are using. Don’t wait. Take the first step to a new life. Call us for help and we will help you determine how best to inform your employer.
References and More Information:
SAMHSA – Know your Rights