If you employ any number of people, you’ve probably seen it.
A once steady employee starts showing erratic behavior, uneven performance, chronic tardiness and unexplained absences or there may be mood swings, deteriorating relationships with co-workers and a sharp increase in job-related accidents. It could be the sign of a problem with alcohol or drugs.
Here are some thoughts on how to approach the problem:
- First and foremost – make sure you have a well written employee handbook that carefully describes your drug and alcohol policy as well as any drug and alcohol testing policy. It is often a good idea to have that policy include drug and alcohol testing for reasonable suspicion.
- Make sure you document any and all concerns or complaints about the employee in question.
- Make sure you and another supervisor carefully observe the employee’s behavior to note the following:
- Eyes being dilated or constricted
- Emotional issues such as agitation or irritability
- Excessive sweating
- Other telltale signs
- Once you have determined you may in fact have a problem, talk to your employment lawyer for guidance.
- Gather resources. Having a list of support groups, treatment facilities, and other resources lets you give your employee a place to start to deal with his or her issue.
- If you provide your employees with health insurance coverage, know what treatment coverage is provided.
- Sit down with your employee to discuss what has been observed. It is a good idea to have another person in the meeting with you to witness the discussion.
- If your employee handbook allows for drug and alcohol testing, contact your drug testing facility to notify them that you have an employee on the way for reasonable suspicion testing. If you send the employee for drug or alcohol testing always explain to them that in order to rule out the possibility that they are in violation of the company’s drug and alcohol policy, you are sending them for a drug and/or alcohol test. If you have not obtained a signed drug testing consent form previously, you should have a consent form available at this meeting for the employee’s signature.
- For safety reasons, never allow the employee to drive themselves to the testing facility.
- Finally – if the tests are negative, thank the employee for submitting to the test and return them to their job. If the test is positive for drugs or alcohol, you may have the right to terminate their employment on the spot or ask the employee to seek counseling assistance.
Managing a workforce can be challenging. Making sure you have a well written employee handbook for each employee protects your rights and theirs.
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