Addiction impacts every corner of your life – from the relationships with your family and friends to how you perform at work. Because of this, if you are finally ready to receive help and start living a sober lifestyle instead, you may feel worried about having to tell your employer. For certain professionals who require time off, the employer may need to know the exact reason as to why you need to take an extended leave. For those who are worried that they may end up losing their job if their boss discovers the reason behind their absence, that worry may cause them to delay seeking detox. However, there are a few laws protecting your rights that you should know about that can give you the peace of mind to speak with your employer about your recovery. Those laws with the following strategies about how to inform your employer that you’re going to be seeking addiction recovery will give you the confidence to do just that and allow you to start your recovery process.
For those who are concerned about losing your job, it’s a completely understandable concern. After all, if you were a business owner, you might be worried about the job performance of someone who is an addict, too. However, it’s extremely likely that your employer and co-workers already know about your addiction problems. Contrary to what you might believe, it isn’t that easy to hide an addiction. In fact, your employer might have noticed the dip in your productivity and been concerned about how you were doing already.
Before you start to worry that you might lose your job, you should know that the American with Disabilities Act protects you from being fired if you choose to enter rehab. The Act considers substance abuse to be a disability. As such, legally, your employer cannot fire you for entering rehab. In addition, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows you to have up to twelve weeks off from work that is unpaid but ensures job protection. Finally, your employer is sworn to confidentiality about the substance abuse information that they receive from you.
With this in mind, you are safe to approach your employer and tell them just what is going on and that you are going to seek help without having to worry about them firing you right then and there. However, they do reserve the right to fire you if you have used substances while on the job. Or, if your performance has decreased so severely, they may fire you before you can even attempt to seek help. Those are their rights. Yet, if you are coming to them and telling them you need time off to pursue detox or a form of treatment for your substance abuse problems, your employment is protected by law.
With that in mind, here are a few strategies on how to approach your employer about requesting the time off for your addiction recovery.
No doubt you’re already in an extremely vulnerable state encountering your boss right from the get-go. After all, admitting that you have a problem is one of the hardest steps in an addict’s life. Doing so in front of an authority is even worse. This isn’t the time to protect your ego. When you’re standing in front of your boss, just be open about what’s been going on in your life. Let them know the reason behind your substance abuse if you have one. Sometimes by making them understand the path that led you down the road of addiction can make them more empathetic to your pain since they can then understand how easy it is to slip into addiction.
You certainly don’t have to tell them your life story, but by giving them just enough of an understanding of your road to addiction, you can paint yourself as just a human who made a mistake to them. By acknowledging your mistake, you’re already showing them how mature you are and how serious you are about your desire to reclaim your life and better yourself. These are all admirable traits that your employer should appreciate.
So, by being open with your boss, you can connect with them empathetically. This will create a connection between the two of you and help them to understand what it is you’re going through and be more inclined to be sympathetic and perhaps even offer their own help, too.
While you should be open with your employer, it’s also important that you remain direct with them. Attention spans are short, especially when a boss is already busy juggling a bunch of different tasks. As such, you should keep your story and visit pretty short. Stick with the main points. Explain to them exactly what is going on, what needs to happen, what you need from them, and if you have an estimated time that you’re going to be gone, let them know how long you’re going to be out of work.
This shows them that you have a plan that you know right down to the period. It allows them to have a sense of comfort that you’re not just trying the first form of treatment that reared its head to you and that you’re serious about seeking help in the first place.
Their Own Benefit
Another aspect that you may want to consider when telling your employer about your addiction is how going to receive help is going to help them in return. Employers are always interested in their business and how it is impacted. By reminding them that you are a good employee and going to detox is only going to make you that much more productive, they’ll be more inclined to wish you all the best and hope for a swift recovery.
With these strategies in hand, you can easily inform your boss about your addiction. Call us now at 877-927-9048