Employees who take drugs come with great risks. Whether they take it during work hours or off-hours is not the issue here. If an employee is taking drugs, acting fast could save lives.
The fact is that drug use in any form poses significant problems to your employees, clients, civilians, and your workplace and business.
It is not the type of work environment you want to maintain. Employees who take drugs almost always bring down other people with them. There are financial and social costs associated with biding your time before addressing the issue.
If you suspect an employee is taking drugs, what do you do? When can you drug or alcohol test an employee? Well, it involves many steps.
The Signs of Drug Use and Addiction
While most drug users are adept at hiding their addiction, eventually, things to come to a head. One of the most common signs of drug addiction is a dip in productivity.
An employee who was once performing well will eventually incur tardies and absences and inevitably display strange behaviours that contribute to a volatile work environment. Some examples are mood swings, irritability, aggression, inappropriate advances, and so on. These behaviours are dangerous no matter what industry you’re in.
Ultimately, the signs are there, if you just take the time to observe the employee whom you suspect is taking drugs. You have to be very careful about making false accusations based on a hunch.
Check for Signs of Drug Use and Document Your Observations
Management, HR, and supervisors should observe the behaviour of the employee in question. If you can, have another person make their observations too. The more witnesses there are, the better. In addition, observations should be written down. Later on, when it’s time to approach the employee, you should be to be able to point to a specific time, date, and situation.
Write down observances such as speech changes, strange odours, eye changes, demonstrations of unstable behaviour, lack of focus, drowsiness, etc. The reason why you should document is to ensure that you are not acting out of mere suspicion with no objective basis. Compare notes with other observers to come to a decision whether or not to approach the employee.
Review Your Workplace Drug and Alcohol Policy
Drug testing is going to be a challenge to implement without it being clearly stated in your workplace drug and alcohol policy. If it is detailed in your workplace policy — good, because you can only act according to what is stated in the policy.
For instance, if it includes drug testing due to reasonable suspicion, then you may very well ask the employee to undergo drug testing.
But remember that it must not only be clear in your policy, The employee must also have acknowledged and accepted the policy. You may have to prove this is the case.
If your policy is unclear, or has not been formally accepted by your employee, they have every right to refuse a drug test.
Similarly your policy must clearly define the consequences for various forms of drug use violations.
Meet With The Employee
Now that you have the proper documentation and you have checked everything against your workplace drug and alcohol policy, it’s time to meet with your employee.
Make sure to have a second witness to this meeting for legal purposes.
It’s time you let the employee know that his or her recent behaviours have been a cause for concern. This is the time to let him or her know of your observations and that there is reasonable suspicion that he or she may be taking drugs. The best approach is coming from a place of concern.
Being confrontational may put the employee on the defensive. Listen to what the employee has to say. After all, the purpose of a drug test is to protect employee health and safety.
Afterwards, you can follow by asking the employee to submit to a drug test. (Here’s how not to conduct a drug test.) If the results come back positive, then you should follow the steps as stated in your company policy.
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