All About Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Leave in California

Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Leave is time off work granted to California employees who wish to voluntarily enter and participate in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program.

Employers who have 25 or more employees are obligated to follow this California law and provide this type of leave.

Reasonable Accommodations

A California employer is required to provide:

  • "reasonable accommodations" to
  • any employee
  • who wishes to voluntarily enter into a treatment program.

What constitutes "reasonable accommodations" is a highly litigated subject and is not clearly laid out in the statutes. There is some agreement that accommodations may include:

  • time off work to seek treatment,
  • allowed use of sick days to get treatment,
  • reassignment to a vacant position,
  • adjusted work schedule or breaks, or
  • other reasonable changes in employment that will help accommodate the treatment.

Right to Payment?

Employees are not entitled to receive pay during their time off from work. They are, however, entitled to use any accrued sick days towards time off from work spent to get treatment for drug or alcohol addiction.

Violations of Employee Rights

An employer is not allowed to discriminate against an employee who wishes to voluntarily seek treatment. An employer is not allowed to:

An important exception is clearly spelled out in the language of the law. An employee may lose his or her job if the employee is:

  • unable to perform his or her duties, or
  • cannot perform the duties in a manner that would not endanger his or her health or safety or the health or safety of others.

If this is the case, the employee may be let go or have his or her job duties adjusted without that action being a violation of California law.

Below, our California employment and labor lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about California employee leave laws for substance abuse rehabilitation:

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Alcohol and drug rehabilitation leave is time off work granted to California employees who wish to voluntarily enter and participate in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program.

1. What is alcohol and drug rehabilitation leave?

Alcohol and drug rehabilitation leave is guaranteed by California Labor Code Sections 1025 to 1028.1 It grants the right:

  • to take time off from work
  • in order to voluntarily seek
  • alcohol or drug addiction treatment.

Every private employer who regularly employs more than 25 or more employees is subject to this law.2

2. What are reasonable accommodations?

What constitutes a reasonable accommodation is often the subject of intense courtroom battles. Under the law, employers are required to "reasonably accommodate" any employee who wishes to voluntarily enter and participate in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program. The reasonable accommodation must not impose an undue hardship on the employer.3

While an exact list is not possible, reasonable accommodations may include:

  • time off from work to seek treatment
  • allowed use of sick days to get treatment
  • reassignment to a vacant position
  • adjusted work schedule or breaks, or
  • other reasonable change in employment that will help the purposes of treatment.

3. Does the employer have to protect my privacy?

Yes, to a certain extent. Employers are required to take reasonable efforts to safeguard the privacy of the employee. This means the employer must not disclose the employee has enrolled in an alcohol or drug rehabilitation program.4

Violations of your right to reasonable privacy may result in sanctions against your employer and a right to money damages, depending on the case.

4. Am I entitled to pay during leave?

No. California law does not require that you be paid during your time off to seek treatment. An employee may use sick leave to which he or she is entitled.5

5. What if my employer violates my rights?

If an employer illegally acts against an employee because of the use of alcohol or drug rehabilitation leave, the employee may file a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement of the Department of Industrial Relations.

The Division will review the employee's claim for illegal actions on the part of the employer. If the employee's rights were violated, he or she may be entitled to:

Call us

Call us for help...

For questions about alcohol and drug rehabilitation leave or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled California employment attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us at the Shouse Law Group.

We have local law offices in and around Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.


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