One question many people worry about when confronting addiction is, ‘Will I lose my job if I go to rehab?’.
In this article, we shed light on this important issue, break down the misconceptions, and provide clarity on the rights of employees seeking help for alcohol or substance use disorders.
Will I Lose My Job If I Go To Rehab?
Making the decision to get help for your addiction will always be good. It can start you down a path that will improve your life.
But along with this change, there is understandably some anxiety. We wish we could say there is no prejudice surrounding addiction, but this is not the case. The best thing you can do to put your fears at ease is to collect as much information as possible.
So, to begin with, let’s answer the question at hand – ‘will I lose my job if I go to rehab?’ In short, the answer is no.
You are well within your rights to take a medical leave from work to receive medical treatment, which drug or alcohol rehab falls under.
If you are part of a union, it is always worth checking to see if they have additional protections. Having people in your corner whose entire job is looking out for workers will always be in your best interest.
Legal Protections and Legislation
You are protected from unjust dismissals under Uk law and the Employment Act of 1996. This means that you can’t be fired because you get sick. Addiction is also legally recognised as an illness, and so seeking treatment for it legally should be considered the same as chemo or appendectomy.
However, with this, there is a double-edged sword. If your employer knows you have an addiction and has offered you treatment that your turn down, you could be considered a liability. This is because, under the law, you are the company’s responsibility.
That isn’t to say you will automatically be fired for admitting to an addiction. It just means that if you make your company aware of it and they see a decline with no sign of you going to rehab, you could put your job at risk.
While the Employment Act protects you, you do have to worry about a DBS under most circumstances.
A DBS check is used if you work with children or vulnerable people. So, for example, if you were a teacher, your workplace would have to do a new risk assessment and have a more serious conversation about if it is safe for you to stay.
Many of these risks can again be negated if you go to rehab.
Strategies for Discussing Rehab with Your Employer
It can be uncomfortable having a serious conversation with your employer. And while we understand the desire to hide what’s wrong with you, unfortunately, that will only hurt you in the long run.
The best way to talk about rehab with your employer is to request a meeting about a need for medical leave and, if possible, to have an HR representative present.
Before the meeting, you should organise your thoughts as best you can. Try writing out what exactly you need to say. Be sure to include the following:
- Say you are struggling with an addiction and require medical leave to get treatment.
- Don’t go into too much detail, especially if you seek treatment for a controlled substance.
- Tell your employer that this will allow you to return to the job with better mental health and ability to work.
Open communication is key here. It needs to be a conversation, not just a speech. Allow your boss to respond but also be sure that you are not talked over.
If they refuse to allow you to take time off, remind them that you are legally allowed to by law.
Most people will want to see you recover. They will want to help you in any small way they can. From this conversation, you may find that where you work provides subsidies for rehab stays, or their private health insurance could help to cover the cost.
The more honest and open you are able to be, the higher the chance of help being offered.
Employer Referral to Rehab
When individuals find themselves in need of rehabilitation, it is not uncommon for their employers to provide assistance by referring them to a rehab facility, as this approach is often favoured by many. In fact, this type of referral is just as common as family referrals.
To do this, they will need to go through HR, who is trained in wellness management. An employer referral is often as simple as filling in a referral form for the appropriate rehab centre.
Don’t worry. This cant be done without your knowledge. And your employer can’t make you go to rehab against your will. All this will do is help you get the help you need by getting you added to the right lists.
Your employer may also recommend that you join a local support group. Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are perfect for this as they are low-stress groups you can get help from.
Preparing for Return to Work
Returning to work from a stay at rehab can be hard. But it is part of your normal routine and can actually be very good for you.
A healthy routine is key to avoiding a relapse. So the structure work can be very good for you.
It’s important that you have a support system in place before you return. This involves people you trust that you can talk to and coping strategies to help you avoid relapsing. For example, something as simple as finding a quiet space to just do some mindfulness exercises can make a huge difference.
We won’t lie to you. Returning to work can be a scary experience for many. It’s not always easy just to slip back into normal life, which is why you can prepare for it by making use of aftercare services, which are usually provided by the rehabilitation clinic.
And remember, it is very important that you remember it is up to you to tell people what you want. While your boss and HR will likely have to know about your rehab stay, your coworkers don’t need to. If you are not comfortable telling them what happened, then you don’t have to tell them. You can say you were recovering from surgery or looking after a sick relative.
Your recovery journey is a very personal thing, and that means you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
You should also remember that if you are facing any kind of abuse or produce because of your stay at rehab in the workplace, then it is important that you report it. Every piece of evidence supporting you is key. You never know when you will need it to protect you.
Find Help for Addiction Today
If you need professional help for an alcohol or drug addiction, don’t suffer in silence. Reach out to us today.
-  the Employment Act of 1996 - https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/18/contents