Most employers are well aware that it costs a lot to fire an employee. It’s better for you, the employee, and workplace morale, if you can find a way to keep the problematic employee while helping them improve their job performance. This is even true if your employee’s problems are due to substance abuse problems or addictions.


There are ways you can help an employee in that situation, so that the end result is positive for everyone. Some of them are listed below.


  • Health insurance. When you’re choosing the health insurance plan you’ll offer your employees, make sure it has at least moderate coverage of rehabilitation, addiction treatment, counseling, or mental health care. These are treatments for health issues that affect your business, and are worth the slightly higher investment.
  • ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t allow you to fire someone for simply having an addiction. An addiction is a mental health disorder and is a protected condition. You are permitted to fire them for job-performance reasons that may stem from their addiction, but when you stop to consider an addiction as an illness as the ADA does, it’s hard to simply throw them out.
  • FMLA. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires you to give your employee up to 12 weeks of leave for medical reasons. Addiction treatment is definitely a medical reason. The law only requires you to guarantee that they will still have a job when they get back, and you are not required to pay them for time they don’t work. However, consider giving them a one-time paid leave anyway. Even if an employee would like to seek treatment, missing out on 12 weeks of income is a problem for most people.
  • Positive confrontation. An employer can set the tone for the worker’s entire recovery simply by how things are said. Instead of shouting or scolding, try “I’m worried about your health and your job performance. I’m on your side. How can I help?”
  • Continuing education. Employees at any company occasionally have to take a half day for continuing education on subjects like customer relations, retirement plans, or company policy. Focus one of these seminars on substance abuse and employees’ options for addiction treatment. That way everyone has this important information, and your target employee doesn’t have to be singled out. You also have a chance to present company policy in a helpful and compassionate way.
  • Confidentiality. If an employee is going to be empowered to take advantage of any of the addiction treatment options available to them, they might have to come clean with you, the boss. But they will need to know that the reason they’re gone won’t become fodder for gossip while they’re away. Keep their details to yourself–both because you have a legal obligation and because it’s the caring thing to do.

As an employer, knowing your rights and responsibilities, and just being willing to help, can be important first steps in seeking addiction treatment for your employees. If you need help finding an addiction treatment plan that fits your employees’ needs, there are resources available to help you on your way.

The staff at Hired Power can answer questions and provide guidance 24/7.  Just call us at 800-910-9299.

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