Employers have a responsibility to take all practical steps to eliminate significant hazards in the workplace. An employee under the influence of drugs or alcohol could not only have a detrimental affect on their work, but could also pose a risk to other staff members’ safety.

Recently an employer was faced with dealing with an employee who he suspected was under the influence of illegal drugs while at work and carrying out the usual duties.

The employer gave the employee a verbal warning but failed to follow through with documenting it on the employee’s personnel file and giving the employee a copy.

The employer then dismissed the employee without adhering to the proper disciplinary process. He simply sent the employee home and told him not to come to work as he was fired.

He has left himself very vulnerable to having a personal grievance lodged against him which could easily cost him tens of thousands of dollars, not to mention the time and stress involved also.

This situation highlights the importance of following the proper processes. It is crucial to follow the disciplinary process step by step and not to take any shortcuts (as minor as they may seem to be) or you leave yourself wide open and at risk of a personal grievance being lodged against you.

It is always helpful when dealing with this type of issue to have a drugs and alcohol policy implemented.

Your policy may:

  • Impose mandatory testing for safety reasons;
  • Set out assistance available for rehabilitation;
  • Impose behavioural standards (not being under the influence at work, no alcohol or non prescription drugs on the premises);

If disciplinary action is to be considered, a fair and correct process should be followed.

If the employee’s standard of work is the only issue then the performance process must be followed.

However, if the problem is more serious, and poses a health and safety risk, then the disciplinary process must be followed.

Please phone Alan Knowsley for a free initial chat if you are concerned about an employee or any employment matter.