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New Directions One too many? Sales to drunks report. Selling to drunks? June event presentations. UKalcohol Twitter chat - 11th June 8pm. In some cases, you may not know that there is an alcohol problem. In other cases, you may know, either because the employee admits to being an alcoholic, or the problem is self-evident. For example, an employee may become intoxicated while on duty or be arrested for drunk driving.
Your role is not to diagnose the alcohol problem but to exercise responsibility in dealing with the performance or conduct problem, hold the employee accountable, refer the employee to the EAP, and take any appropriate disciplinary action. Your role in dealing with alcoholism in the workplace is crucial.
The most effective way to get an alcoholic to deal with the problem is to make the alcoholic aware that his or her job is on the line and that he or she must get help and improve performance and conduct, or face serious consequences, including the possibility of losing his or her job. Even though you must not try to diagnose the problem, there are many signs that may indicate a problem with alcohol, and should trigger a referral to the EAP.
The employee may also be absent from his or her duty station without explanation or permission for significant periods of time. In jobs requiring long-term projects or detailed analysis, an employee may be able to hide a performance problem for quite some time. The employee may also have noticeable financial problems evidenced by borrowing money from other employees or receiving phone calls at work from creditors or collection companies.
Not any one of these signs means that an employee is an alcoholic. However, when there are performance and conduct problems coupled with any number of these signs, it is time to make a referral to the EAP for an assessment so that the employee can get help if it is needed. This service is confidential. These programs are usually staffed by professional counselors and may be operated in-house with agency personnel, under a contract with other agencies or EAP providers, or a combination of the two.
The EAP counselor will meet with the employee, assess or diagnose the problem, and, if necessary, refer the employee to a treatment program or resource. Please see the material in the Appendix With permission of the client, the EAP counselor will keep you informed as to the nature of the problem, what type of treatment may be needed, and the progress of the employee in treatment.
Before releasing this information to you, or anyone else, the counselor would need a signed written release of information from the client which would state what information may be released and to whom it may be released.
WHO/Europe | Handbook for action to reduce alcohol-related harm ()
Sometimes, the employee will contact the EAP on his or her own. The role of the Human Resources, or Employee Relations office in dealing with cases of substance abuse is to advise management of appropriate adverse, disciplinary, or other administrative actions which may be taken. They also advise employees of their rights and the procedures in such cases. They do not obtain confidential information from the EAP nor do they independently approach the employee regarding the problem. As a supervisor, you are responsible for confronting the employee.
Employee relations staff will work with the EAP to the extent that confidentiality is not violated, will try to assist you in working with the EAP, and will work with you to try to make sure that any adverse or disciplinary actions are appropriate and defensible. In most agencies, it is the employee relations or human resources specialist who actually prepares or drafts adverse or disciplinary action letters, including those involving a firm choice. A firm choice is a clear warning to an employee who has raised alcohol or drug abuse in connection with a specific performance, conduct, or leave use incident or deficiency.
He or she must make a choice between accepting treatment for the alcohol or drug problem and improving job performance or facing disciplinary action, up to and including removal. It is generally a good practice to notify any employee who is being counseled for a performance or conduct problem about the availability of the EAP. However, it is crucial to make a referral to the EAP in the case of an employee with a known alcohol problem. Although you are not diagnosing the problem, you are dealing with employee performance and conduct and, possibly, alcohol-related misconduct such as using, possessing, or being under the influence of alcohol at work.
As a supervisor, you need to develop a strategy for addressing the work-related problems, as well as for encouraging the employee to get help. A good starting point is to meet with the EAP counselor, if possible, to discuss the problems observed and any other behavior by the employee that needs attention. The EAP counselor can help devise a strategy for confronting the employee and advise on techniques of addressing the problems.
Before actually meeting with the employee, you should gather any documentation of performance or conduct problems and think about what items to discuss with the employee. It might be helpful to rehearse this or at least go over the documentation with the EAP counselor.
Once prepared, you should notify the employee of the time and place of the meeting. The meeting should be held in a private place away from distractions. Unless the employee reveals the existence of an alcohol problem or there is immediate evidence of on-duty impairment, you must be careful not to offer any opinion that the employee may have a problem with alcohol.
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You should refer the employee to the EAP and explain that failure to correct any deficiencies may result in disciplinary or other action. It would be preferable to have already made an appointment for the employee with the EAP. Sometimes the employee will not accept the referral to the EAP or will deny the existence of a problem. If this happens, it is important to continue to document any problems and to take any necessary disciplinary action. It is not unusual to have additional meetings with the employee and to make additional referrals. The employee is in "denial" at this point and does not see that he or she has a problem.
This is the hardest part of dealing with an alcoholic. The disease is so strong that the individual is unable to see what is happening to himself or herself. If an employee chooses to use the EAP at your urging, he or she may enter some type of treatment program as described earlier in this booklet.
If the employee does not choose to go into treatment, the next step will be to take any disciplinary or corrective actions that are necessary. One technique which can be used to confront the employee is called intervention. It generally consists of scheduling a session with the employee where a number of people significant in his or her life are present, including you, the spouse, children, clergy, other family members, co-workers and other friends.
The session must be led by a trained professional, such as the EAP counselor. If the. It is extremely important that such an intervention be led by a trained professional and not by a lay person, such as a supervisor, because it can be a very emotional and powerful event and, if not conducted properly, may very likely backfire. Supervisors should contact an agency EAP counselor for more information about the intervention technique. During the period of time that the employee is away from work receiving treatment, he or she will usually be carried in some type of approved leave status.
In most cases, it would be appropriate for the employee to be carried on any available sick leave. Otherwise, annual leave or leave without pay would be appropriate. Check with the Human Resources office about the rules and policies regarding approval and denial of leave. When the employee has completed any treatment requiring extended absence and is ready to return to work, it is a good practice to have a back-to-work conference.
These sessions should cause only minimal disruption to the work schedule.
Generally, agencies do not have the authority to conduct mandatory alcohol testing. Although some agencies may have the equipment and trained personnel to administer an alcohol test, such a test would be voluntary.
Most alcohol testing would probably be conducted with an evidentiary breath testing device EBT , commonly referred to as a breathalyzer. While there are other methods of testing for alcohol, including blood or saliva tests, an EBT is the predominant method because it is less invasive and is already in use by law enforcement personnel. Law enforcement personnel on Federal property may administer alcohol tests to drivers when there is an accident or reasonable cause to do such testing.
However, cause for such testing must be based on a violation of motor vehicle and traffic rules and not mandatory testing by the agency. These rules call for mandatory alcohol testing, using EBTs, of applicants for identified positions and in cases of reasonable suspicion of alcohol use, and for random testing of employees in these positions. Any agencies conducting this type of testing will have a specific program spelled out in agency policy. An agency may conduct voluntary alcohol testing.
An example of this might be an instance where you think that an employee is intoxicated but the employee denies it. If intoxication is indicated by the test, the agency may use it as a basis for some type of administrative action, such as sending the employee home, or taking disciplinary action. An agency may not take disciplinary action solely because an employee declines to undergo a voluntary alcohol test. An area that is often troublesome for supervisors is what to do when an employee is apparently under the influence or intoxicated at work. Agencies have a fair amount of latitude about what to do in these situations.
The following is a list of steps you should take in dealing with such a situation. Though not all steps would be appropriate in all situations, most would be applicable.