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Employees’ Weekend Drinking Impacting Their Job
We hear your struggle and understand the predicament the company is in. On one hand, employees are consuming alcohol in their own time as they have a right to do. On the other, that consumption may be impacting their ability to do their job. The company has a responsibility to provide a safe environment for all employees, when possible. Excessive alcohol consumption – even off the job – may endanger employees’ health, safety and productivity, put co-workers at risk as well as tarnish your company’s reputation.
Employees need to know what the expectations are around alcohol use – on and off the job. However, some states have restrictions on when a company can intervene with an employee’s use during personal time. Once you’ve consulted with your attorney about your state’s laws, clearly outline those expectations in your drug-free workplace policy/program and provide copies and explanations to all staff. Some areas to consider:
- How is “under the influence” defined – e.g., a positive test and at what level?
- What are the consequences if someone comes to work under the influence?
- What tool will you use to document reasonable suspicion – i.e., that someone’s use of alcohol may be impacting the job?
- How will the company handle someone who is under the influence or displaying reasonable suspicion?
Consider what other policies and protocols come into play, such as attendance or safety. How do these work in tandem with your drug-free workplace program?
Additionally, the workplace is one of the few opportunities adults have for getting relevant, alcohol-related information. Help them – and yourselves – by providing educational sessions and resources around alcohol, such as low-risk drinking guidelines and details about binge drinking. Here are a couple free resources to get you started:
Make sure your employees have access to helping resources if they are experiencing an alcohol-related problem. In Ohio, we have a website listing community resources or your company could supply information from your Employee Assistance Program.
Another thing to consider is talking with your management team about how drinking norms – e.g., alcohol at company parties or sales/management meetings, responses to an employee’s alcohol use, etc. – should adhere to your drug-free workplace policy and model safe, low-risk behaviors. Ultimately, your management team is tasked with enforcing the program and their support for low-risk alcohol use is vital to its success.