Imagine if you were a supervisor, manager or owner of a business and you suspected one of your employees was high on drugs. What can you do? What should you do? Should you demand workplace drug testing to confirm your suspicions?
Wind back the clock before workplace drug testing
This is a tough situation, however, if you are asking yourself these types of questions what you really want to do is to rewind the clock, to a time before contemplating workplace drug testing. Because, while testing is an excellent tool to help you maintain a safe workplace, there needs to be several things in place before the first drug test takes place.
First and foremost is a workplace drug and alcohol policy. This detailed and robust document should contain all the vital information concerning your approach to drugs and alcohol in your workplace. It should contain details such as:
- The responsibilities of everyone, including management and employees
- How employees are educated on their responsibilities
- What support is available for employees who need help with drugs and/or alcohol
- What type of testing you conduct and how often
- What happens when an employee provides a non-negative test?
- Disciplinary action for an employee who records a positive test
- And, we’ve left this until last because of the significance to this article, the procedure for when an employee is suspected of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol
There are many reasons why a workplace drug and alcohol policy is vital. Most notably, if you don’t have a policy how will you and your employees know what’s expected and required of them (such as when you suspect someone is high on drugs)? Legally, a robust and detailed policy is also a must. You don’t want a safety inspector, the police or other person in authority, such as a coroner, asking what’s your policy on drugs and alcohol if you don’t have an answer.
So, what should you do if you suspect an employee is high?
If you’ve reached this part of the article you should know the answer and, if you don’t, you should consult your workplace drug and alcohol policy, which will tell you exactly what you should do.
An important point to make is that you always need to be careful when you suspect someone is under the influence. The employee might not be under the influence – they may be sick, may have personal issues that are affecting them or it may be to do with something else entirely. Don’t assume and don’t make accusations.
Remember, the reason for introducing workplace drug testing in the first place is not about consequences or punishment; it’s about making your workplace safe. So, after you’ve observed any concerning behaviour, and preferably others have also witnessed the behaviour, make sure the employee is taken to a safe place, such as an office area, for a talk. Approach the discussion with concern, rather than confrontation, and you’ll be on the right path.
At the end of the day, you may well conduct workplace drug testing to confirm your suspicions. If your workplace drug and alcohol policy defines that conducting drug testing is the correct in these circumstances, then you most definitely should.
Should you conduct workplace drug testing is you think an employee is under the influence?