Should You Tell Your Boss That You’re Going To Rehab?

If you struggle with chronic drug or alcohol abuse, getting effective treatment has to be your priority. While this may be complicated by your obligations at work, there are systems in place to help you take time out to attend a treatment program without unjustly losing your employment.

Telling your employer or a human resource professional that you have been struggling with a serious health condition and need treatment is a difficult conversation.

Although it may be hard, this is a conversation likely worth having—it can open up a path for you to access important resources to support your overall recovery and personal wellbeing.

Is It Necessary To Tell Your Employer About Rehab?

If you struggle with drug or alcohol addiction, it may not be necessary for you to disclose the specifics of your condition to your manager, and certainly not in intimate detail. 

However, there are advantages that come with speaking to your manager or a human resources professional about your condition proactively and securing accommodations for treatment.

You Are Protected By Law

If you do choose to share, your disclosure is protected by a variety of federal laws which, collectively, stipulate that your employer:

  • cannot force you to share information about your health conditions and diagnoses
  • cannot improperly share your private medical information with other members of your organization who do not have a legitimate need to know that information
  • cannot fire or discriminate against you because of your condition if you do share it with them

This includes information relevant to a substance use disorder, which is recognized as a legitimate medical condition by the United States and the state of Ohio specifically. 

Letting your employer know what is going on can open the door to FMLA and ADA support, which may be supplemented by employee assistance programs organized by your employer and usually outlined in your company’s employee handbook.

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How To Share Your Rehab News

You aren’t required to share any more about your medical treatment than absolutely needed. But it is often a good idea to let your boss, manager, or HR rep know that you are committed to your recovery, committed to your position with the company, and appreciative of their accommodations and support. 

You may also frame your recovery as something that will help you improve your overall wellbeing and be a more effective and reliable employee in the future.

What About Colleagues?

When it comes to your colleagues and teammates, you aren’t required to share any information if you do not want to. 

You could simply state that you are taking a leave of absence for personal issues, and let your team know when you will be returning. Or you can let trusted individuals know that you are receiving inpatient treatment for a health problem or exploring treatment options for a nonspecific mental health condition.

Challenge The Stigma

You are also welcome to challenge the stigma surrounding addiction by being open and honest about receiving substance abuse treatment. You may be surprised by how supportive and understanding your colleagues might be.

Your FMLA Rights

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a US labor law that supports workers who experience medical or family problems.

Under the FMLA, your employer must provide you with job-protected unpaid leave for valid medical or family reasons, including the treatment of a substance use disorder. This means you can take up to a 12 work-week long leave of absence in a single 12-month period.

FMLA does not allow an employee to take time off of work to use substances, nor will it protect a person from being fired if they violate a company’s policies regarding safety and substance abuse while at work.

How To Qualify

Note that in order to qualify for FMLA leave you must have worked for your employer for at least twelve months, for at least 1250 hours over the past twelve months, and at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles or is a school or some other public organization. 

You may also need to secure a completed healthcare provider certification form to qualify for unpaid FMLA leave.

Your ADA Rights

You may also be able to secure support from your employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The ADA mandates that leave for an employee with a valid healthcare condition should be supported if it constitutes reasonable accommodation, or one that doesn’t impose excessive hardship on your employer. 

In other words, the ADA may allow you to take time off from work or to adjust your work schedule, or your overall responsibilities, with no penalty as long as these accommodations directly support your recovery.

This could conceivably include some time working from home, or flexing your schedule to allow you to attend an outpatient treatment program or support group during the work week.

Added Protections

The ADA also offers protections against discrimination for those who are experiencing an alcohol use disorder or those who have a past history of illicit drug abuse (excluding those who are currently misusing illicit drugs). 

Though employees can still be disciplined or fired for poor job performance if an employer uses the same standards applied to all employees collectively.

Drug and alcohol rehab programs can give you or your loved one the best possible chance for recovering from a substance use disorder. To learn more about your treatment options, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division
  2. Department of Labor
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: November 10, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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