What to Do if You Suspect an Employee is Under the Influence at Work

What to Do if You Suspect an Employee is Under the Influence at Work

 
female employee being scolded by boss at work
 
An employee under the influence of drugs or alcohol at work not only poses a serious risk to themselves, but also to other employees and customers, as well as your company’s reputation, profits, and more. Whether an employee is abusing alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal substances, as an employer, you have the right to pursue appropriate action. However, knowing how to navigate this challenging situation can often leave employers confused about the best way to move forward.
 
If you suspect an employee is under the influence at work, here are a few steps you can take:

Know the Laws

 
First and foremost, educate yourself (and your human resources team) on the rules and regulations outlined by state and federal law. In the state of Washington, private employers are allowed to require employees (and job applicants) to take a drug and alcohol test. However, the employer must follow state regulations in regards to testing, including providing the required notice of drug and alcohol testing policy, following procedural rights, and avoiding discrimination.

Avoid Making Accusations

 
It’s important that you never make unfounded accusations, even if there are numerous signs and symptoms of workplace impairment. Instead, follow specific procedures to avoid unnecessary conflict and minimize liability. Document every instance of a suspected sign or related incident, following company procedure and informing the proper HR staff as needed. When it comes time to discuss the issue with the employee, use neutral language and request testing as appropriate.

Refer to Your Company Policy

 
It’s important that all involved staff adhere closely to your company’s policy and procedures, particularly for the sake of avoiding legal problems in the future. If you don’t already have a drug and alcohol policy in place, now is the time to create one.

Be Prepared to Make Accommodations if Necessary

 
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employee dealing with alcohol addiction may be protected by law. In certain cases, you may be required to provide reasonable accommodation, such as time off for rehabilitation and treatment.

Common Signs of Employee Alcohol or Drug Use

 
In some cases, it’s very obvious that an employee is under the influence at work: signs may include slurred speech, glassy eyes, irregular behavior, or even being caught with illicit substances or devices. However, there are other less well-known signs that may indicate employee drug or alcohol use, and knowing what to look for is an important step in being prepared:
 

  • Loss of productivity
  • Increased combativeness
  • Increase in employee errors
  • Erratic behavior or changes in personality
  • Decreased job performance

Employee Drug and Alcohol Testing in Renton, WA

 
Ideally, every employer should have clear drug and alcohol policies and procedures to refer to in the event that an employee is suspected to be under the influence at work. However, it’s never too late to create and implement a solid policy to protect your company, and ARCpoint Labs of Renton is here to help.
 
We offer a wide range of affordable employer-focused solutions, making it easy to customize your services and choose the options that best suit your needs, including pre-employment testing, reasonable suspicion or post-incident testing, and more. In addition to convenient lab testing, ARCpoint Labs also provides professional training and support services, aiding your human resources and management team in drug and alcohol use in the workplace.
 
Learn more about protecting your company from the dangers of employee drug and alcohol use by contacting ARCpoint Labs of Renton today.
 
Image Credit: fizkes