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Dealing with employees who have alcohol or drug issues

Employees who have drug or alcohol issues provide employers with some of their trickiest HR problems.  Attorney Carmen Couden of Foley & Lardner in Milwaukee has published a very helpful article  on dealing with such employees.  Among her recommendations: 

1) Establish a policy that provides for severe consequences for employees who report to work under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
2) Develop a drug and alcohol testing policy that complies with both federal and state law.  (Keep in mind that Minnesota has a very detailed law regarding such testing policies, so be sure to review it with counsel).  
3) If possible, offer the employee a leave of absence to seek treatment prior to terminating an employee for drug or alcohol related performance issues.
 4) Document alternatives to discipline or discharge in writing. 
5) Develop and use “last chance” agreements to document the employee’s rehabilitation obligations, and make the penalty for an employee’s failure to satisfy his or her obligations immediate discharge.

These cases are usually difficult to sort out; don’t hesitate to consult with experienced employment counsel on them.

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