Keeping Your Job While Getting Mental Health Help

Keeping your job while getting rehab help

If you’ve debated whether you need to enter an inpatient program to address a mental health disorder or substance abuse problem, or you might wonder how to go to rehab and keep your job. Many employers have anti-substance abuse policies, and it’s reasonable to fear retribution if your supervisor is aware you are struggling to perform your duties. The good news is that the law offers protection and resources you can use to keep your job while you get the treatment you need.  

Do I Need To Go to Rehab? 

While it’s easy to think going to rehab might be disruptive to your life and career, many people attempt other solutions with little to no success. The reality is that if you allow your condition to continue to impact your life, it could cost you much more in the future. If you’ve tried to manage your health issues on your own and failed, the first step is to recognize that you can lean on other people for help. 

There’s incredible power in numbers, so when you immerse yourself in a group that understands what you’re going through, you’re no longer fighting your issue alone. The benefits vastly outweigh the temporary cost of time away from your current life to get the assistance you need. 

I Can’t Go to Rehab – My Job! 

Most people who suffer from mental health or substance use issues have careers and don’t want anyone they work with to know what they’re going through. You might feel that your supervisors would look at you differently if they knew and your colleagues will judge you. There are laws that prevent employers from disclosing information about workers’ health conditions, and this includes information about a disorder.  

This guide covers some of the laws and programs you can use to protect your career, even if you need to take a leave of absence to seek help. The reality is that you’re not the only person who’s ever needed to put their job on hold to enter rehab, and you’re also not the last person who will.  

Can I Be Fired for Going to Rehab? 

If you’re worried about losing your job over your need to seek help, consider the consequences of not receiving the help you need. Many people with untreated addictions wind up losing their jobs because of the toll the instability takes on their relationships with family, friends and coworkers. It can impact your job performance and put you at risk of the very thing you fear most. 

You can’t legally be fired for asking to take time off to enter rehab, and our counselors can help you learn more about the laws that protect you. We can also assist you if you happen to run into any issues with your employer. While you can’t be fired for entering rehab, keep in mind that you can be let go if you act negligently on the job.  

Laws To Protect Your Job 

Whether you’ve obtained health insurance coverage through your employer or the health care marketplace, coverage for mental health services is a right through the Affordable Care Act. There are additional laws in place that require your employer to allow you to seek treatment without any negative impact to your career, such as being let go for seeking assistance. Here are a few of the laws that protect you.  


The Family and Medical Leave Act was enacted to protect workers who need to leave their job for medical reasons. Requesting leave through the FMLA is how to go to rehab and keep your job, because your employer is legally obligated to give you the time off you’ve requested and then to reinstate you at your current position once you’ve returned. You can’t be subject to any form of disciplinary action or held back from future promotions if you’ve asked for leave. 

It’s important to note that an employer can terminate a worker’s employment if they miss work due to substance abuse itself. Our counselors can assist you in requesting leave the right way so you’re not at risk of losing your position.  

Short-Term Disability 

Another reason you may be hesitating to go to rehab is that you’re going to stop receiving your paycheck while you’re away. The good news is that many employers have covered their workers with short-term disability insurance. This is similar to worker’s compensation, but it doesn’t need to be used for an injury or illness that results from your job duties. 

You can receive up to two-thirds of your pay while you’re in rehab if you file for short-term disability, which means you can continue to collect paychecks for up to 20 days. This is enough to keep your finances in order while you seek the treatment you need.  

Union Protection 

If you’re in a union, there are tons of resources at your disposal. You can speak with your union representative to see what you can do to protect your job while you’re in rehab. Union contracts make it a lot more difficult for employers to let workers go due to medical concerns, such as mental health treatment. 

Importance of Following Procedure 

Before you take your leave, you need to understand the law and how it applies to your current situation. For example, you can’t request leave under FMLA after an event that’s resulted in negligence on the job. Your employer may still hold you accountable for the things you’ve done while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, which is why it’s important to bring your condition under control before it leads you to do something that can be used to terminate you. 

Our counselors can help you learn how to go to rehab and keep your job by guiding you through the correct process. We’ll help you apply for the programs you need to use and let you know the limits of the legal protections you have.  

Your Career After Treatment 

Returning to work after going to rehab can be nerve-wracking because you know you’re going to be asked where you were. While it’s perfectly reasonable to fear being judged, your return may open doors for you, especially with coworkers who’ve gone through something similar.  

The best way to ensure your reintegration goes smoothly is to have a plan in place before you return. Decide how you’re going to explain your absence and make sure that you’re communicating properly with your supervisors. You should have an aftercare plan that includes regular counseling sessions and a support system.  

Getting into a routine can help you recover, so the very act of going back to work may be a huge step in your recovery. See if your employer has a workplace support team and attend meetings. You may meet other people who can support you when you’re feeling overwhelmed.  

Don’t Let Fear Keep You From Making the First Step 

If you’re suffering from an addiction, you’re not alone. Restore offers the guidance and resources you need to make a positive change in your life. Contact us today at (877) 594-3566  to learn more about our program and how we can help you take the steps you need to return to a healthy life.