Business owners never imagine that a key, top-performing employee would test positive for drugs. However, it does happen.
The pressure to perform well and a stressful work environment may push any employee towards unhealthy coping mechanisms.
However, the consequences of a key employee testing positively for drug use are severe.
When it comes to a key employee’s testing positive for drug use, it’s very easy to mishandle the situation. On the one hand, you want to retain the employee, but on the other, you do not want to employ someone who uses drugs.
If you’re in this bind, what you have to rely on is your workplace drug and alcohol policy. What does it tell you about an employee testing positive for drug use?
Refer To Your Workplace Drug & Alcohol Policy
A legally-binding drug and alcohol policy will detail the next steps to take following a positive result from a drug test. Again, the only steps that you can take are what’s detailed in your policy.
But first things first: remove the employee from the workplace. Relieve him or her of all duties especially if the job is considered safety-sensitive. If your key employee’s performance can affect the safety of others, relieve him or her of his duties.
The most comprehensive policies include the steps to take from a rising suspicion to the time period after receiving a positive test result. Typically, a comprehensive policy will include an employee assistance program.
Not only in the case of key employees (but also other employees), it’s best to give them a chance to participate in assistance programs such as counselling or a rehabilitation program. It is highly unfortunate for termination to be the consequence of testing positive for drugs especially if the employee has a key position in your company. However, if the employee refuses to participate in a program, that constitutes grounds for termination.
Moreover, set a probationary period for employees who are in recovery as a consequence of the positive drug test. Unless your employee has made a full recovery, exercise caution against restoring all his or her responsibilities.
Continue To Cultivate a Positive Workplace Culture
With all things considered, you should still maintain a company culture of positivity and support during this time. A large part of establishing a drug-safe workplace is to cultivate a positive, caring and healthy work environment, which extends to employees struggling with addiction. This is the perfect time to show your company that you stand by the mission of your policy.
Keep in mind that all members of staff will be observing how you handle this situation. Just like any drug-related problem, this needs to be handled very delicately and professionally. This sends the message that you take work and employee health and safety seriously.
The Bottom Line
A drug-abusing key employee poses an even greater threat to the survival of your company. As a business owner, it is your obligation to ensure that your employees have a healthy, safe, and positive work environment.
For best results, make sure the company performing the drug testing is familiar with your policy framework and your HR department has received the appropriate alcohol and other drugs safety training to deal with this situation.
If you need any assistance dealing with drug abuse at work, contact us today for a confidential discussion.