How to Handle Drug and Alcohol Abuse in the Workplace
Practice care and compassion in these situations
HR Question: I am part of our HR team, and a supervisor approached me because they suspect one of their employees may be drunk or on some type of drug that is inhibiting their performance. We have a policy prohibiting workplace drug and alcohol abuse that allows us to test if we have reasonable suspicion. Is that enough? What should I do?
HR Answer: First, we recommend that you talk with the supervisor to understand and specifically document the employee’s behavior that’s causing concern. Is it behavior that is not typical (i.e., appearance, odor, etc.)? It is ideal to have two parties observe and document the behaviors to independently confirm reasonable suspicion of drug and alcohol abuse. However, it is not required if you do not have the ability to do this. If you’re able to have two observers, one party is often the supervisor and the other party is typically someone in management or HR.
If the employee has a safety-sensitive job or appears to present a safety concern for others, the manager and/or HR professional may need to remove the employee immediately from their work area. In this case, escort the employee to wait in a safe and private location (i.e., a conference room, an office, etc.) to discuss the concerns and observations.
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