Are you thinking about going to an addiction treatment center but afraid that you’ll lose your job if you do? This is a common fear many people face when deciding whether or not to pursue treatment. With many rehabilitation programs lasting 30 days or longer, most employees assume they simply can’t afford to get treatment.
These employees are left worried that their employer will fire them or that spending time away from their job seeking treatment will negatively affect their future career plans. Though you may be uncertain about your employment status if you decide to seek treatment, it is always best to say “yes” to getting treated for an addiction. The truth of the matter is that though it may be difficult to step away from a job to enter into treatment, there are certain laws in place to protect some employees.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is one such law that allows for individuals seeking treatment for certain disorders to remain employed while away from their jobs. The FMLA, along with other laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ensures that employees seeking treatment for an addiction don’t lose their jobs because of it.
With FMLA, employees are protected for a total of 12 weeks in a 12-month period when seeking treatment for a medical condition. Individuals that are using this time to go to rehab are protected under FMLA, as long as their healthcare provider qualifies that the addiction is what would be classified as “a serious health concern”. In order for FMLA to be used for an employee that is receiving treatment, the individual in question is required to have worked over 1,250 hours for the past year.
Moreover, FMLA is also applicable to employers with over 50 employees that are in a 75-mile radius, as they must adhere to this law. Though these specifications may make qualifying for FMLA a challenge, most employees find that they will be protected through FMLA.
Individuals with certain disabilities are entitled to various financial benefits. An employee with a qualifying disability can take advantage of these benefits through Social Security. If you are seeking treatment for addiction, you may be able to receive SSA benefits after you are diagnosed as having a substance abuse addiction disorder.
In order to qualify for these benefits, an individual must prove that they have experienced significant behavioral or physical changes associated with their addiction.
It is important to note that the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) considers drug addiction and alcoholism to be disabilities. For example, alcoholism is classified as a mental impairment, which is a disability that an employer cannot act against.
With drug addiction, any individual that has sustained impairments due to substance abuse will likely be able to meet the Social Security criteria. These impairments may include anxiety, depression, seizures, brain damage, liver damage, pancreatitis, and other similar conditions.
Disclosing Your Addiction at Work
Due to the stipulations that must be met in order to take advantage of FMLA, it’s important to properly go about disclosing your need for treatment to your employer. Beginning the conversation will not be easy, but it is an important step in receiving treatment. Once your employer is aware of your needs, they will be better able to assist you in seeking treatment.
If you are concerned that they will share this confidential information, keep in mind that employers are legally obligated to keep your personal information confidential. As an addiction can interfere with an employee’s performance at work, treatment stands to benefit both the employee and employer.
As you continue to research your options for treatment, keep FMLA and ADA in mind. As it is your legal right to receive treatment, don’t let the fear of losing your job hold you back from being treated.
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