Alcohol abuse in the workplace
WHEN it comes to alcohol and substance abuse rules and regulations, there is no one-s-ize-fits-all. In other words, the onus is on you as part of management to draw up a policy that can be communicated to your employees should they break company rules.
One of the main things you’ll need to take into consideration is that your policy needs to be tailor-made to suit your type of organisation. What this simply means is that the rules you set for employees engaged in hazardous occupations, will be different from those you outline for employees involved in less dangerous occupations.
How so? Well, the circumstances that these employees find themselves in demand a differentiation in the acceptable level of blood alcohol. For instance, an office worker who’s consumed any alcohol 24 hours prior to starting his job, is less of danger than say, a bus driver who has a much higher potential of injuring passengers, should he too consume any alcohol before going on shift.
In your policy also include rules regarding alcohol consumption off the office premises during working hours, and rules regulating alcohol consumption for managers and executives, during business trips and the like.
An employee does not have to necessarily have consumed a sufficient amount of alcohol to be over the limit. Even if from a whiff you suspect that your employee had a few, it can be considered an act of misconduct.
Should it be so, you may dismiss your employee after following a fair procedure.
What if your employee is dependent on alcohol?
You can suggest assistance, counselling or rehabilitation in situations where employees show a genuine need to be helped or, it can be reasonably concluded that the rehabilitation programme will result in employee showing a commitment to overcoming his drinking problem.
In situations where you’ve done all you can do to assist your employee and they still choose to go back to the bottle, then your part is done. The next step is to follow procedures as stipulated in the company policy, and if necessary, dismiss that employee.
If your employee refuses any assistance and outright denies having a drinking problem, if their drinking habits affect their output at work or they are absent too often, then there is a problem that needs to be dealt with before it escalates.
When you suspect an employee is an alcoholic, whose drinking problem is affecting his performance, the first thing to do will be to fish out important information from his manager: How a long has the problem persisted? Specifically in what way is it affecting the job processes? How frequently is he absent or late because of this problem? How frequently does he go off sick? Armed with enough information, you should call a meeting with the employee and any key management to discuss your findings.
Make sure to take down every detail of the meeting proceedings, including how the employee has suggested to overcome his/her problem.
Also provide a date by which he must comply with whatever has been agreed to, and a warning stating that should he fail to achieve the required work performance standard by a reasonable time frame, then further procedures will follow which may lead to his dismissal.
WHEN it comes to alcohol and substance abuse rules and regulations, there is no one-size-fits-all.