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What Should You Do When You Suspect an Employee is Using Drugs?

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If you suspect an employee might be using drugs, either at home or in the office, it’s imperative that you take action as soon as possible. As well as posing a risk to their own health, if your suspicions are correct then it could have major repercussions for your workplace including diminished performance, lateness, poor behaviour, and potentially even violence to other members of the team

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s essential you handle it with utmost care. If you are tactless, you risk making false accusations or causing them to make a commotion. In order to follow the correct procedure, here are some of the steps you will need to take.

Check your policy

Every workplace should have a policy specifically outlining guidelines around drug usage. It should certainly enforce a zero-tolerance attitude towards substance abuse, but it’s not always clear what to do if you have no proof. Drug testing is the only way to be sure, but this is a thorny legal issue, and you may need to seek legal counsel before you can include it in any company documentation.

Observe

Once you have reason to suspect your employee, you shouldn’t be too quick to confront them. Try to observe their behaviour and look for evidence of any drug use. It’s difficult to know precisely what to look for, as symptoms can differ wildly for different substances. Some telltale signs may include dilated pupils, drowsiness, irritability, poor performance, sweating, and slurred speech. Speak to other members of the team and tactfully ask them if they have noticed anything. Be sure to document any evidence they give you.

Meet with them

Once you have amassed enough evidence to support your suspicion that they have a drug problem, it’s time to meet with them. Do so in private, with a second party present to act as a witness to the meeting. Bring up your suspicions and ask them to be honest with you. If they admit to taking drugs, you can simply follow the guidance in your company policy, which will most likely be to let them go. But the proper course of action is more tricky if they deny it. You may need to test them, but there may also be a perfectly valid reason for their strange behaviour: perhaps they are suffering with their mental health or exhibiting the side effects of a new medication. In rare cases, it may be the result of methamphetamine residue in your office building, which can be detected with business meth drug testing. However, you may be compelled to test them.

Test them

Sending your employee for a drug test is a big step to take, and it will require legal counsel to make sure you are acting properly and in accordance with the law. There are many drug testing facilities available across the country dedicated to keeping workplaces drug free. If the results come back positive, you will have no choice but to take action. You could let them go directly, or you could offer them the chance to have counselling or treatment and then reconsider their status once they are rehabilitated.

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