Help for an Employee

If an employee is addicted to drugs or alcohol, then it’s likely this is costing your business dearly. This is particularly a problem for small and medium-sized employers who simply do not have the resources to ‘carry’ a person suffering from addiction.

It’s likely this employee is a valued member of your team. After all, those affected by addiction are often some of the most productive and intelligent members of society. Many of these people began to abuse drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with stress generated in their professional life.

If you are able to show compassion towards your employees’ situation, then you could help to solve this problem with our assistance. At Rehab 4 Alcoholism, we are on hand to advise you on the exact steps you must take to help your employee overcome his or her addiction.

The truth is that you cannot tolerate drink and drug use at work. If an employee is abusing drugs or alcohol during the working hours, then it’s likely this will cause many negative legal issues to arise. Turning a blind eye to this behaviour will not shield you from legal liabilities if anybody is injured due to your employee’s addiction.

If an employee is addicted to substances, he or she is likely to miss work, get into conflicts with co-workers and supervisors and increase the risks of personal injury and damage to property.

Losses caused by an employee’s addiction are particularly acute for small businesses. Those suffering from addiction are likely to apply for a job with a small business because these businesses are highly unlikely to invest in drug-screening policies.

Unfortunately, addiction is a disease and not a choice. This means you cannot compel an employee to stop using drink and drugs with a dismissal warning. Rather than following a punitive approach, it’s advised you instead consider assisting your employee’s attempt to access addiction treatment.

Maintaining a drug-free workplace

You have a positive duty to your employees to root out and prevent drug use at work. Establishing a formal drug-free policy is essential. You should expressly cover this issue in the employee handbook and within individual employees’ contract of employment.

If necessary, you should provide training that seeks to educate employees about the dangers of engaging in drug use whilst at work. You also need to make it clear that such behaviour will absolutely not be tolerated. To do otherwise is to put all of your employees and the general public’s safety at risk. This is particularly the case if your employees operate heavy machinery of any variety.

If it becomes apparent that an employee is abusing substances outside of work, then you could consider assisting this person in seeking out addiction treatment services. This may be necessary if an employee offers unique skills that may be difficult to access in the current job market.

If you have in place a workplace health insurance policy, then it is worth enquiring if this policy will cover the costs of drug and alcohol rehab. If these costs are not met, then you may be able to argue your employee requires treatment for a co-occurring mental health problem such as depression. The cost of treating mental health problems is much more likely to be covered by your insurance policy when compared to the cost of paying to treat addiction.

How to help an employee who is experiencing an addiction

Enforcing a drug-free policy isn’t just about cracking down on employees with punitive measures. Instead, you should aim to educate employees about the very real risks that arise when they choose to abuse drugs and alcohol either during work hours or during their free time.

If employees are suffering from an addiction, you could offer an amnesty. This will allow employees to seek out help within a set period of time without the risk of them being subject to disciplinary measures. You could allow employees to seek out help confidentially with the promise that all treatment costs will be covered by the workplace insurance policy.

If an employee is choosing to seek out help without being pressurised to do so, then you should embrace this call for help in a proactive and non-judgemental manner. It’s worth remembering that many employees develop an addiction because of the stress they are put under at work, and so reprimanding them for their addiction is not necessarily in anyone’s best interests.

Identifying if an employee is suffering from an addiction

Identifying an employee’s addiction is never easy. In some cases, the signs will be obvious. In other cases, the signs may be subtle and difficult to detect. Many employees who abuse drink and drugs are often highly functioning individuals. Many of these people will not use drugs or alcohol whilst at work, choosing instead to abuse substances during their free time. These factors may mean it is difficult to say with certainty that an employee is actually experiencing a problem with substance misuse.

Common signs that may indicate an employee is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction include:

  • Frequently call in sick
  • Displaying unfocused, agitated and aggressive behaviour
  • Poor hygiene
  • Confused and forgetfulness
  • Not meeting important deadlines
  • Taking longer to complete familiar activities
  • Failing to turn up for appointments
  • Behavioural and personality changes

Whilst these signs may indicate an employee is abusing substances, these signs may also mean your employee is suffering from a range of other disorders such as anxiety, depression or a physical health concern. When approaching an employee about these issues, it’s always important to demonstrate your empathy, sensitivity and good judgement.

Helping an employee overcome an addiction

Approaching an employee about his or her suspected addiction is never easy. It may be difficult to get an employee to admit up to the fact that he or she is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Sometimes, it can take many years for a person to overcome this denial.

If an employee is unwilling to admit to his or her addiction, you may consider reaching out to their family and offering to arrange a formal intervention. An intervention is typically conducted by an experienced interventionist for a fee.

It’s important to be firm yet fair. If an employee simply refuses all help you offer, then make it known that this refusal will not come without consequences, including potential job loss. You cannot simply continue to employ a person whose performance is affected by drug and alcohol addiction. To do so will hurt the morale and even increase the risk of accidents and associated physical injury, particularly if the work is of a physical nature.

If an employee is willing to seek your help voluntarily, then it’s vitally important for you to be supportive. Seeking out help is never easy, lease of all from a person who could ultimately decide to cut off the individual addict’s livelihood.

If an employee is entitled to receive treatment by way of a company health insurance policy, you can contact Rehab 4 Alcoholism today on 0800 111 4108. We will assist in advising you on local rehab providers who accept payment by this means.

Once your employee has completed his or her rehab programme, then it may be beneficial to transfer this person to a less stressful role upon their return. You may choose to temporarily or permanently reassign this person to another position within the company. You may also authorise this person to take paid or unpaid leave once they have been discharged from rehab. Doing so will allow them to fully recharge and adjust to a life where drugs and alcohol are entirely absent.