Maintaining job security in the event of the need to take ‘sick’ leave for rehabilitation can be a slippery slope. It becomes a matter of employee benefits, coverage, leeway, logistics, laws, and medical care.
Many sufferers from drug and alcohol abuse, dependency, and addiction also hold down jobs or even have high-paying or professional careers. There is no one size fits all to the type of individual who can become afflicted by substance abuse and the related problems.
The laws surrounding workplace leave for addiction treatment depend on the work setting. The benefits packages offered to employees, employer preferences, and mandatory statewide or nationally sponsored laws and care acts are all considerations. Similarly, a great many addiction sufferers, once graduated from a rehab program, may face a multitude of obstacles when they try to reenter the workforce.
A Quick Glance at Your Rights
Employers may have a personal bias when it comes to stereotypes they have about the type of person who suffers from addiction. They may feel uneasy about an individual with a gap in their work history no matter what the reasons. However, this type of business discrimination is something many addiction sufferers and recovering addicts face as they attempt to keep existing jobs or apply for new ones. It is becoming increasingly important for rehab-seeking employees to know their rights. It is just as important that job seekers who happen to be recovering addicts are aware of their rights.
In this day and age, due to the high number of substance abuse and focus on supporting addiction sufferers, certain federal laws protect individuals from workplace discrimination both during treatment and in subsequent job hunting or return to work. Among those laws are the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Fair Housing Act (FHA), and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
Is drug addiction considered a disability?
Yes, legally, a drug addiction is considered to be a disability because it requires treatment and rehabilitation, just as any other medical disorder does. Take, for instance, a recovering addict who is applying for a job. That person has the right to challenge any discrimination due to his or her past drug use or need for treatment.
Alcohol and drug disorders, defined as a legal disability that requires effective treatment and rehabilitation, just as any other medical or behavioral disorder. As such, individuals suffering from such afflictions have the right to challenge workplace discrimination for honest disclosure of past drug disorders or the need to seek treatment.
Additionally, individual employers who have offered medical benefits or full health coverage to employees must honor commitments to pay for a part or potentially all treatment and maintain an employee during a potential leave.
Before and After Seeking Help
If an employed individual suffers from drug or alcohol dependency or addiction, the first step towards getting the help they need while working to maintain job security involves proper communication with one’s employer. It is important to remember that as an addiction sufferer, one qualifies as an ‘individual with disabilities.’ If one needs to go away for a treatment program, communicate with the employer to discuss treatment plans and form a step-by-step structure to tackle the obstacles.
How do I tell my boss I need time off to go to rehab?
The best way to tell your boss you need time off to go to rehab is to be open and honest about your situation. Together, you can work to find out if the company offers any employee assistance programs and what’s covered by the company’s or your insurance. Communication is key if you want to keep your job.
Find out if the employer provides any employee assistance programs (EAP), or programs that aid individuals working for a company who are suffering from personal problems. From there, find out what is covered by private health insurance both through the employer and the employee. The Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Marketplace is obligated to help individuals find the most targeted substance abuse and mental health services to assist an employee’s needs best.
After locating the best rehab program to fit one’s needs, keep in mind that lack of funding should not be a barrier to receiving necessary treatment. Though there may be inexpensive program alternates through state sponsored rehab programs, support groups, and online recovery networks; there are also nationally and federally sponsored resources for drug abuse.
The Social Security Administration can determine whether or not a sufferer may qualify for assistance or supplemental income. The American Society for Addiction Medicine offers educational programs and information on self-advocacy, networking, treatment programs, and aftercare services.
Is it hard to find a job after rehab?
According to the law, a person in recovery should be able to find a job after attending rehab with little to no difficulty. Certain federal laws protect individuals from workplace and other types of discrimination. These laws include:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- Fair Housing Act (FHA)
- Workforce Investment Act (WIA)
The goal of rehabilitation is to reintegrate individuals into their lives, work, families, and social setting. It is also the goal to help people to lead healthier and more productive lives. Therefore, it falls on the shoulders of companies across the nation to weigh the risks and rewards involved with temporarily losing an employee. On the risk side, holding a place in the workforce for someone battling addiction provides logistical obstacles and inconveniences for any business. At the same time, keeping a reliable, trustworthy, and valued employee as they receive the help they need can be a tremendous asset to business.