Substance Abuse and Your Workplace

May 31

Several Prescription Drugs Spilled From Fallen Bottle Near Glass of Alcohol.

In case you missed it, May was Mental Health Awareness month. With respect to the organizers of the spotlight on mental health, every day is mental health day for so many. The mental health struggle is real, widespread, and doesn’t stop at the workplace door. People are hurting and many of them are reaching for drugs or alcohol to blunt the pain–your employees included.

What is an employer to do? We are living in unusual times and the old methods do not always work. Plus, with the very tight labor market, keeping employees is paramount. Many employers are taking a more compassionate approach and working with an employee for a first-time issue. While traditionally employers have simply referred an employee to an Employee Assistance Plan, many are being much more proactive by providing manager training, a compassionate process to address, and even return to work agreements that encourage continued employment while supporting sobriety efforts.

This is a delicate area of the law. Employers must balance the employee’s confidentiality with their efforts to assist both the employee and the interests of the organization.