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elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses - FLSA Section 14(c) Advisor

Participants in Substance Abuse Recovery Programs

An individual enrolled in a substance abuse recovery program may be a patient worker if employed by the facility providing the treatment.

When such an individual is first admitted to the program or facility, he or she often is incapable of immediately performing work. The primary reason for being at the facility at first may be to avoid alcohol or other drugs rather than to perform significant productive work. In such cases, the Wage and Hour Division will not assert an employment relationship for the first four weeks (28 consecutive calendar days) of residence at the facility.

An employment relationship will be asserted during the 28-day period, however, if the individual engages in activities that provide a consequential economic benefit to the facility or program. As a general rule, any work of the type that workers who do not have disabilities normally perform, in whole or part, in the institution or business or elsewhere, will be considered “of consequential economic benefit” to the employer.

Special provisions apply to participants in substance abuse recovery programs that are placed in “family setting” style residential facilities.

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FLSA Section 14(c) Advisor | Wage and Hour Division