“Drinking at Work” is a Big No, No!
Drinking at work is a Big NO, NO, says Nancy Dube of Dube Consulting in MA. A Human Resources Outsourcing Company that can assist your business growth!
Did you find someone drinking at work? I received a call from a company, similar to yours, asking me what to do because their employee was drinking at work? My first response do you have an Employee Handbook, with a written policy on alcohol and/or drugs?
Your decision to terminate is not always cut and dry!
If you comply with ADA(Americans with Disabilities Act) the alcohol may be considered a disease and require some special handling. In my case, the company was very small and is not required to make reasonable accommodations. Usually, when considering this topic we look at the size of the company, ADA and FMLA requirements. Fortunately, my call was from a very small company who did not meet the threshold.
Neither federal nor state law mentions protecting employees who abuse alcohol while at work, or whose alcohol abuse prevents them from performing any part of their job.
If an employee abuses alcohol while on duty or has some necessary license or authorization (driver’s license, management oversight) revoked due to their drinking, than an employer may terminate them without the accommodations required by law.
While controlling law and public policy tends to encourage an environment in which alcoholics are able to seek the help they need without concern over losing their jobs, there is no requirement that an employer tolerates alcoholism while an employee is on duty.
What should we do now, the owner asked? I said, prepare to terminate the employee. Get his final paycheck ready and bring him into your office and sit him down. Tell the employee that he has violated a company policy as written in the Employee Handbook, which he signed. Show him where he signed off on the Employee Handbook. Let the employee know that you have a no-tolerance policy and he is being discharged for this violation of company policy. If the employee has access to your property, tools, credit card, cell phone, laptop be sure to retrieve them. Provide the employee with his final paycheck.
A note to the wise, if the employee is under the influence at the time of discharge, do not let him drive home. Call a cab, Lyft or Uber!
The process sounds simple enough, but if not handled properly the results of treating alcohol abuse can include loss of productivity, damages caused by an alcoholic employee, and any treatment required to help an employee recover from their addiction.