What Responsibility Do Employers Have for Employees with Drug Problems?

What Responsibility Do Employers Have for Employees with Drug Problems?

Written by Craig Rogers, Posted on , in Section Relationships That Matter

The legal responsibilities employers have toward employees with drug and alcohol abuse or addiction issues is a sticky-wicket, to say the least. When it comes to drug use and employees there are many deeper issues, concrete laws, and moral duties to both the company and the employee. Employers face both legal and moral dilemmas and there are no easy answers.

"Common sense would say that the revelation of an employee’s “substance abuse” would lead to immediate employment termination. People with drug and alcohol problems go to great lengths to keep everyone in the dark, especially the boss or employer."

In some States, employers have the legal right to give employees drug tests. Some might say employers have the moral obligation to give their employees drug tests, and then fire them if they fail. For example, school bus drivers should not be using or abusing drugs of any kind and should lose their job for failing drug tests.

Depending on the State, employees have rights, and employers must follow employment laws. All States require employers to follow the State’s employment laws when establishing workplace anti-drug policies. But should State’s go farther, and perhaps require intervention and treatment as opposed to employment termination? Are there cases that intervention is the best option for all parties?

There are many reasons why people avoid treatment for drug or alcohol problems, and “getting fired” is just one. Many people can’t afford the cost drug treatment or the loss of wages when they are in rehab. Cost is certainly is a real issue, but the alternative (no treatment) could cost them their life. For whatever the reason, many people with drug problems avoid seeking or receiving treatment. Is there a solution?

I believe that employers have a legal and moral duty to provide their employee's solutions other than getting fired. To best serve the community, the employer, and the employee, there needs to be a well-defined policy that starts with a well-planned “intervention”.

To bring the drug problems out of the shadows and into the open where real solutions have a chance to save lives, an intervention is the first step. An intervention conducted by a professional. Interventions are based on building trust, making changes, and real consequences. And, interventions usually involve all important parties (family, friends, and peers) who are impacted by the addicts behavior.

Brian Hughes:  Employee Drug Intervention: What to Expect, How to Prepare

The original article can be found on The Huffington Post Blog by Brian Huges on June 3rd, 2016

Watching an otherwise high-performing, highly successful employee struggle with drug addiction can be an incredibly difficult and emotional experience for everyone involved. As an employer, it’s only natural to experience a host of feelings, including frustration, disappointment, and anger at your employee. If the employee is someone you mentor, you may feel a profound personal betrayal… A professional interventionist who is experienced with workplace interventions should manage an employee drug intervention.

To continue reading this article on Huffington Post, click here.

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