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Can I Keep My Job if I Go to a Residential Recovery Center?

Man with hands in a praying positing, wondering, "Can I keep my job while in an residential recovery center?"

Drug or alcohol addiction can result in numerous harmful outcomes, including health issues, fractured relationships, poor job performance, financial struggles, and even death. We know that, though drug and alcohol rehab can disrupt your life, continuing to abuse substances will disturb your life far more. You may be thinking about residential addiction treatment, and this question may circulate in your brain: “Can undergoing residential treatment and keeping my job co-exist?” Rest assured, the answer is a resounding yes.

The knowledgeable staff at Mile High Recovery can help you navigate enrolling in an inpatient program while protecting your job. Our residential addiction center in Denver, Colorado, offers evidence-based treatments in a safe and supportive environment. Our inpatient and outpatient programs can help you begin your recovery while feeling secure about your future. Call 855.796.2102 today or use our online form to speak to one of us about protections against firing or working while in an inpatient addiction center.

Can I Keep My Job While in a Residential Recovery Center?

If you have a substance use disorder (SUD), deciding to enter addiction treatment can be difficult if you are worried about your job. But not making that decision puts your career at much greater risk. The fallout of addiction in all aspects of your life can be devastating and lasting. On the other hand, your job is legally protected while in rehab.

There are two legal protections. One, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), protects you in advance of entering an addiction treatment program. The other, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), provides recourse should you need it because your employer has fired or plans to fire you for taking time away for residential rehab.

What Do I Need to Know About the FMLA?

The FMLA was passed into law in 1993 to protect workers and their families from unjust firing practices if they take time off to deal with personal or family health issues. Under the FMLA, an individual can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for a mental health disorder while still having access to employee health insurance. Since SUDs fall under the mental health umbrella, you are protected by this law when you enter residential addiction treatment.

To receive the FMLA protections, you must request an FMLA leave before entering residential treatment. Don’t wait until you are done with treatment, as the law does not work retroactively.

Under FMLA, you are eligible if:

  • Your employer is either a government agency or a private one with over 50 employees within 75 miles
  • You have been employed for a minimum of a year
  • Over the last 12 months, you’ve worked at least 1,250 hours

If you do not qualify for FMLA protection, there is still recourse for you—the ADA—should your boss try to fire you for going into inpatient rehab.

What Do I Need to Know About the ADA?

The ADA is a federal law passed in 1990 that makes it a crime to discriminate against employees with disabilities. Chemical dependency is considered a disability as long as you are not currently using illegal drugs. Using drugs or alcohol on the job is a legitimate cause for termination. But if you have sought help for your disorder and are in recovery, you cannot be penalized for the time you took away from work to seek treatment.

If you experience a job termination or threats of firing because of time spent in addiction treatment, you can appeal based on the ADA. Some employers who learn that their employee is in rehab will try to terminate them based on this new information that they have a SUD. They may point to past issues and try to blame them on your addiction. From a legal standpoint, they cannot do that. Once you voluntarily enter treatment, neither that fact nor past mistakes caused by addiction can be used against you for termination.

Mile High Recovery Center Can Help in Overcoming Addiction

You may still be asking: “Can I keep my job while in residential rehab?” However, keep in mind that whether you can keep your job while in residential rehab is different from working in an inpatient addiction center. If you are enrolled in a licensed residential addiction center such as Mile High, your schedule may not include time to go to work remotely. Your time will be fully committed to the goal of addiction recovery. However, your employment is still protected under the FMLA and the ADA.

Residential rehab and keeping your job are not mutually exclusive. Recovery over addiction is a brave choice that promotes your well-being, future productivity at work, and numerous other benefits, from healthy living to positive interpersonal relationships. Most employers understand that a healthy, sober, productive employee is a true asset to their business and will support your choice to receive help. Fortunately, legal protections are in place if that is not the case. To learn more about how your job is protected while in treatment, call Mile High at 855.796.2102.

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