How can I protect my job and my privacy while I’m in rehab treatment?
The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid work leave for eligible employees with a substance use disorder. Employees who are eligible for FMLA benefits must work for a covered employer (which applies to all public and private companies with 50+ employees) and must have worked for the employer at least 12 months (1,250 hours).
If your company has a drug-free workplace program, FMLA benefits still apply to any serious health condition, including “any period of incapacity or treatment connected to inpatient care such as substance abuse treatment,” according to FMLA employment law. Ask your human resources director for more information about your employer’s FMLA compliance; you can also learn more at: http://www.dol.gov/elaws/fmla.htm
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act also provide job protections for people in recovery or treatment for addiction.
In general, employers “may not deny a job to or fire a person because he or she is in treatment or in recovery from a substance use disorder, unless the person’s disorder would prevent safe and competent job performance,” according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The employer must provide “reasonable accommodations” when needed, such as changing work hours to let an employee attend treatment.
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Employers must also keep confidential “any medical-related information they discover about a job applicant or employee, including information about a past or present substance use disorder.”
The ADA applies to all state and local governments and private employers with 15 or more employees; the Rehabilitation Act applies to federal employers and other public and private employers who receive federal subsidies or contracts.
All rehab employees sign a confidential agreement to protect your personal information, and should follow the “Consent to Release Information” form that identifies your wishes for sharing personal information. All rehab facilities in the United States must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This law establishes national standards for securing the privacy and integrity of individual electronic health records, with criminal penalties for violations.