How To Go To Rehab Without Losing Your Job in CA

You are dealing with an addiction. Your family wants you to get better. You want to get better. Yet, you have a job you’d like to keep as you recover as well. You are beginning to worry that your recovery will impact your professional responsibilities. Or will it? Can you work while in rehab? Or, […]

You are dealing with an addiction. Your family wants you to get better. You want to get better. Yet, you have a job you’d like to keep as you recover as well. You are beginning to worry that your recovery will impact your professional responsibilities. Or will it? Can you work while in rehab? Or, more importantly, how to go to rehab without losing your job in California?

We are here to reassure you that seeking help from an addiction treatment California facility is the right decision, despite the outcome. Still, we are also here to provide the answers to the questions you are asking and explain how to tell your employer you are going to rehab.

California’s employment laws and rehab

If you’re thinking of attending rehab and wondering can you get fired for going to rehab, you should get familiar with the state laws in place. Fortunately, the state of California has taken steps to ensure you remain employed during this period.

A person wondering how to go to rehab without losing your job in CA
Can you work while in rehab? Explore the laws that protect you to find the answer.

The California Family Rights Act (CFRA) allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for the treatment of a serious health condition. This law covers your addiction and rehab. This means you can take the time you need for your recovery without fear of losing your job. However, to be eligible, your employer must have at least 5 employees. You must have also worked for them for more than 12 months and for over 1,250 hours in the past year.

Additionally, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) in California protects employees from discrimination based on a disability, which can include substance use disorders. This means your employer cannot legally fire, demote, or treat you unfairly because you are seeking or have sought treatment for addiction. Your employer is also encouraged to provide reasonable accommodation when you undergo rehabilitation. This includes allowing a flexible work schedule for treatment or recovery-related appointments.

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On top of exploring laws specific to the state, explore federal regulations that protect you from losing a job while recovering from addiction.

In addition to knowing the specifics of California laws, you should also be aware of the federal legal protections that complement them. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are two critical pieces of legislation to explore.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Similarly to CFRA, the FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12-month period for serious health conditions. These include substance use disorders as well. This leave can be used for rehab without the risk of losing your job.

The eligibility criteria practically mirror that of California’s CFRA and include working for the employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours over the past year. FMLA applies nationwide, including in California, for employers with 50 or more employees.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities. This can include people with addiction issues, provided they are not currently using illegal substances. Think of it as the nationwide counterpart of the above-mentioned FEHA.

Can you get fired for going to rehab? As per ADA, no. At the same time, this act protects you from unfair treatment at the workplace post-treatment. Furthermore, should you wish to seek another job in the future, ADA ensures you are given equal opportunity for employment despite your history of SUDs.

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How to go to rehab without losing your job? By informing your employer about it!

How to tell your employer you are going to rehab?

Discussing your need for rehabilitation with your employer might cause you additional stress. However, if you understand your legal protections well and know how to communicate effectively, everything becomes easier. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to tell your employer you are going to rehab.

  1. Plan your conversation
  2. Know your rights
  3. Choose the right time and place
  4. Use encouraging language
  5. Propose solutions
  6. Ask for support
  7. Document everything
  8. Follow up

Plan your conversation

Before the big conversation, plan what you want to say. As you work on the specifics, think about how much you are comfortable sharing. Remember, while you can disclose the specifics of your addiction, you are not obligated to do so. What you must do, though, is explain you are seeking treatment for a health condition.

Also, prior to speaking with the employer, make sure to seek a professional opinion regarding the duration of your leave. This will help you understand your situation thoroughly and answer questions such as “How long does a drug and alcohol assessment take?” or ”How long do you expect to be away?”. Also, the professional assessment will give you insights into how your substance abuse affects your work and find suitable treatment options.

A person talking on the phone after learning how to go to rehab without losing your job
Can you get fired for going to rehab? Shortly, no, but you still want to approach informing your employer about it with a plan.

Know your rights

Familiarize yourself with the FMLA, ADA, and California state laws like the CFRA. Knowing your rights can help you communicate more confidently and clarify the protections you are entitled to, such as job security during your leave.

Choose the right time and place

Schedule a private meeting with your employer or HR at a time that’s convenient for them. This will help you have a sensitive and productive discussion.

Use encouraging language

Use positive and constructive language to explain how committed you are to recovery. Highlight how seeking treatment will ultimately benefit your work performance. Also, emphasize your intention to return to your role with renewed focus and health.

Propose solutions

Discuss how your work can be managed in your absence. This might include temporarily delegating your responsibilities to other colleagues or shifting deadlines. Showing that you’ve considered the impact of your leave on the team can alleviate any concerns your employer might have.

Ask for support

Even though you are legally protected, you should ask for support rather than just assert your rights. This makes your relationship more understanding and cooperative.

Document everything

Keep records of all communications with your employer about your leave and treatment. These can protect you in a court of law should any issues arise.

Follow up

After your initial conversation, keep your employer updated on the status of your treatment, keeping what’s private private. The ongoing communication can help both of you maintain trust and ease your transition back to work after rehab.

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Job performance and misconduct concerns

As you discuss with your employer the possibility of keeping your job during rehab, questions about your job performance might come up. They might have already noticed something’s up based on your behavior at work. It’s also possible they’ll confuse poor job performance with misconduct. Since the two are treated differently in the legal sense, it’s important you know the difference.

  • Job performance: Generally speaking, job performance refers to your ability to meet predefined job standards, goals, or objectives set by the employer. Federal and California laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), offer protections if addiction affects your efficacy and efficiency. These laws recognize substance use disorders as disabilities in some contexts.
  • Misconduct: Actions violating workplace policies or laws, such as theft, harassment, violence, or willful negligence, are seen differently. For instance, ADA and FEHA protections do not cover misconduct. Therefore, seeking treatment before problems worsen will ensure your job is safe and show you are committed to recovery.
A woman signing a document while reading something on the computer
Your employer could require you to sign a so-called ”Return-to-Work Agreement”, as part of your how to go to rehab without losing your job deal.

Return-to-work agreements

Upon completing rehab, you may encounter what’s known as a “Return-to-Work Agreement” (RTWA). This agreement is a common practice that outlines the expectations and conditions of your return to the workplace. A Return-to-Work Agreement typically includes conditions you must meet to maintain your employment. These often involve:

  • Continued abstinence from substances,
  • Participation in ongoing treatment or support groups,
  • Regular drug testing,
  • Any other workplace accommodations or modifications agreed upon.

Be aware that this agreement may also outline the consequences of failing to meet these requirements, which could include disciplinary actions or possible contract termination.

Upholding to RTWA

Given you are wondering how to go to rehab without losing your job, it’s natural you’d want to do anything not to risk termination. Luckily, upholding to a return-to-work agreement isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Here are a couple of steps you need to take if you ever encounter RTWA following your dismissal from a rehabilitation facility.

  1. Carefully review the terms of the agreement to ensure you understand your responsibilities. If anything is unclear, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. You can consult your HR department or a legal advisor for details.
  2. When you return to work under an RTWA, you should stay committed to your recovery and adhere to the set terms. Consider how you’ll integrate your ongoing treatment or support group meetings into your work schedule.
  3. You should talk openly with your employer and any relevant support staff, such as HR representatives or your supervisor. If you encounter challenges that could affect your compliance with the RTWA, discuss them immediately.
A therapist talking to a person during a session
Post-rehab counseling could be required by an RTWA. Even if not, for long-term sobriety, you are encouraged to engage in treatment sessions following your dismissal from the facility.

Confidentiality and privacy rights

Another thing you should get familiar with is confidentiality and privacy rights. These rights are safeguarded by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and California’s privacy laws. They ensure your health information is confidential.

HIPAA prevents healthcare providers from sharing your personal health information without your consent. This includes details about rehab. Although HIPAA does not directly cover employers, any health-related information they obtain through health insurance is subject to confidentiality rules. Employers must also adhere to privacy laws that restrict the disclosure of an employee’s medical condition.

California offers additional protections through the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA) and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which protect medical information and prohibit discrimination based on medical conditions, respectively. These laws ensure employers keep medical information confidential and use it only for legally permitted reasons, like arranging reasonable accommodations.

Rehab and treatment options in California

Now that you know how to go to rehab when you have a job, let’s explore your treatment options in California. We Level Up California offers you the following:

  1. Alcohol detox
  2. Medication-assisted treatment
  3. Inpatient rehab
  4. Outpatient Rehab

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Alcohol detox

If you are addicted to alcohol, you can greatly benefit from our alcohol detox California treatment. Detoxing is the very start of your recovery process. It stabilizes your physical health and allows you to engage more effectively in further treatment, like counseling and support groups. As you detox in our facility, we will safely manage the withdrawal symptoms that occur when you stop drinking. During your stay, you will be under constant supervision. This is especially important because alcohol withdrawal symptoms, like delirium tremens, can be life-threatening.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)

Once you have successfully detoxed, your recovery has only begun. In continuation, it’s possible your addiction counselor will suggest you go through medication assisted treatment in California. MAT is meant to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms and enables you to function in daily life and at work. Also, it’s possible to engage in MAT without getting hospitalized. This means you can fit rehab right in with your professional commitments and, thus, reduce the time spent off work.

Inpatient rehab

Receiving treatment without being hospitalized works wonders for some people. So does listening to words of encouragement for addicts during support groups. But for certain individuals, that may not be quite enough. If you are facing severe addiction, it’s possible nothing but an intensive treatment environment will help. That’s precisely what We Level Up California inpatient program provides. It offers you the best chance at recovery by providing 24/7 care and support.

Can you work while in inpatient rehab, though? Well, you can’t, as the entire focus will be on your recovery. Nevertheless, as we could have already seen, the protective legal frameworks in California and the U.S. support this choice. They allow you to prioritize your health and eliminate the worry of losing your job.

Outpatient rehab

Returning back to the recovery plan that doesn’t imply staying at a treatment center, we cannot but mention outpatient rehab. Outpatient rehab differs from its inpatient counterpart, as it allows you to live at home and continue working while receiving treatment. It integrates with your daily life and offers you therapy sessions during the day or evening to fit around your work schedule.

As for whether outpatient treatment is the right option for you, we can’t say for sure without knowing your story. After all, no person is the same. Ultimately, the choice between inpatient vs outpatient rehab depends on the severity of your addiction and your need for a structured environment. Nevertheless, a professional at We Level Up California will guide you through available types of care and help you decide which is the right fit.

Learn how to go to rehab without losing your job

The key to learning how to go to rehab without losing your job is knowing your rights. The good thing is that federal and California laws are on your side. They protect you and make your brave choice a bit easier to manage. Of course, there’s the whole how to tell your employer you are going to rehab part of the story. But know this: while intimidating, having a productive conversation is possible. Prepare yourself in advance for the ”talk”, arm yourself with the right information, and you will surely keep your career intact as you recover. But the best of all is you will return to work a better, healthier self!

  1. Family, Medical, and Pregnancy Disability Leave for Employees in California | CRD.
  2. “Fair Employment and Housing Act – CA Department of Rehabilitation.”,
  3. “The ADA, Addiction and Recovery | ADA National Network.”,
  4. U.S. Department of Labor. “Family and Medical Leave Act.”,
  5. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. “HIPAA for Professionals.”, 17 May 2021,
  6. Confidentiality of Medical Information Act | Consumer Federation of California.

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