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​You're fired! Or not. Positive options for dealing with workplace substance abuse

Tue Oct. 16th 2018

You're a responsible employer. Your team works with tools and heavy equipment in what can be a hazardous environment. Testing your employees to ensure they're not impaired is a key element of your Workplace Health & Safety programme, giving you an added level of confidence in your team and hopefully more trust and confidence in each other.

But what happens when that trust is broken and a key team member fails a drug & alcohol screening test, and this is later confirmed by the lab report?

The person who has failed the screening may not have had any prior disciplinary issues and may have been a member of the team for some time, with good knowledge and understanding of how the business operates and your clients. Having to let them go because of a stupid decision would be a real shame, so it's important to know that there are constructive options.

Build-up, don't break-down.

A rehabilitation offer provides an alternative to disciplinary action, and can be provided as goodwill and at the discretion of the company. Such an offer is usually written, signed and agreed by both parties over a set period.

It may have conditions such as:

  • The staff member must attend a rehabilitation program and show attendance records, for example at CADS
  • The person may have to get and declare a medical certificate from their doctor regarding anything that is being taken to assist in getting them off any substance/s. This is to help also with on-going Drug and Alcohol testing.
  • The person may have to undertake a certain number of Drug & Alcohol tests over a set period of time.

These conditions must be discussed and agreed between both parties. The staff member may even have to pay for the on-going random drug and alcohol screening, but at least they get to keep their employment. This, along with other conditions, may be negotiable, so it is always a good idea to discuss the options with a good HR professional.

Turning a loss into a win

If the staff member in questions sticks to their part of any such agreement (and vice versa) then the outcome of the initial screening has really led to a win-win situation:

you get to retain that experience and knowledge of your employee – and by helping them constructively may have generated a lot of goodwill – and the employee gets to retain their employment and hopefully improve their health (and everyone else's safety.)

As an employer, you shouldn't fear drug and alcohol screening/testing just because you may be forced to let a key member of your team go - there are plenty of constructive options to explore.

"Having a living drugs and alcohol policy in your workplace, which includes random drug testing, will show your employees and your customers that you take a proactive approach to their safety and well-being."
Rob Taylor

Create a safe & trusted workplace

Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace needn’t be a scary experience for you and your staff. Instead it can reduce risk to your business, and create a more protective culture that will be valued by employees and customers.

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