Recovery Plus: Workplace wellbeing When dealing with instances of drugs or alcohol in the workplace, employers are faced with a choice of three paths to follow. David Passfield starts with an overview. your library’s essential reference September 2016 47 About the author David Passfield is a senior employment law and health & safety expert at Peninsula Business Services, with over 20 years’ management experience. Since joining the Peninsula family in 2002, David has helped business owners in all aspects of employment law, health & safety and staff management. He knows first-hand the hurdles and obstacles that employers face daily. And he is keen to ensure that owners and managers get essential guidance and direction on how to effectively manage employees, whilst reducing the risk of litigation and increasing profitability. He is no stranger to being in the spotlight, as he is often quoted in newspapers and appears on radio and TV advising SMEs on how to grow their businesses. between using these dismissal or disciplinary procedures for conduct-related incidents and ensuring support is given where employees have acknowledged that they have a problem. This obviously depends on the severity of the situation and whether their role is safety critical. Employers might decide, in some cases, to adopt a more understanding approach. The first stage could involve an informal welfare meeting with the employee, which should take place in a private and confidential area, to sensitively address the concerns you have with their performance issues and also general concerns about their wellbeing and change in behaviour. Due to the stigma attached to this issue or a general fear of coming forward, the employee might not initially open up and admit there is a problem. So it is important to exude a non-judgmental attitude. The overall aim of this meeting is to encourage the employee to voluntarily seek treatment and to offer support that you have as an organisation. During the meeting, it would be appropriate to encourage the employee to seek advice and help through either inhouse organisational support or to make an appointment with their GP or an external drug and alcohol specialist organisation. It could be beneficial to offer the employee time off to attend appointments and to get the process moving before it escalates further. Outside the informal meeting, employers should ensure they offer employees a comprehensive Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which includes telephone support and advice, to discuss any issues with professional, fully trained counsellors. This is particularly useful for people who are not initially confident with a face-to-face conversation. However, face-toface counselling sessions should also be made available, which can take place during working hours or at the employee’s convenience. Again, this should be in safe and confidential consulting room, providing peace of mind and reassurance. Finally, to ensure that the entire workplace is educated on drug and alcohol awareness, employers could construct an awareness programme. This can include training, group sessions and seminars to provide employees with a refresher on the drug and alcohol policy, while also giving information on how this issue can affect the workplace and how to spot the warning signs that a colleague might be struggling with alcohol or drug dependency. LL For more information on how this might impact or affect your business, email Donna Abela at Donna.Abela@peninsula-uk.com or call on 07973-890552, quoting reference SEM38304 (www.peninsulagrouplimited.com).
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