How to Handle On-the-Clock Drug Use

Although the signs of on-the-clock drug use can be similar to off-the-clock abuse — such as increased moodiness, excessive weight loss, poor work performance, and argumentative behaviors — handling drug use at the workplace is a different process.

When an employee engages in drug use when on-the-clock, they put their coworkers, clients, and customers at risk, posing medical, financial, and legal liabilities to your company. Worried that one of your workers is unfit for duty do to drug use? Here’s how to proceed.

What To Do About On-the-Clock Drug Use

Approach & Observe

If you suspect an employee of on-the-clock drug use or impaired performance, you should first approach them and observe their behaviors. Ask them if they are alright, and see how they respond. If they grow combative or exhibit other behaviors indicative of drug use, ask them to accompany you to a private place.

Grab a Witness

When you lead the suspected employee to a more private area, be sure to have a supervisor, HR professional, or a union representative accompany you both. This qualified individual will serve as a witness to your conversation and ensure that the discussion follows workplace policies.

Initiate Discussion

Do not begin your private conversation by broaching the topic of drug use or intoxication. Rather, let the employee know that you have noticed their slower responsiveness, slurred conversations, or whatever signs of drug use you have witnessed.

Then, let your employee respond to your comments. Some will offer an explanation for their behaviors, while others might admit to on-the-clock drug use.

Take Appropriate Action

If your employee admits to on-the-clock drug use or intoxication, you should send them home immediately to ensure they don’t pose a risk to others’ safety. Arrange for their safe transportation; if they resist and attempt to drive, call the police to prevent them from driving under the influence.

If your employee does not admit to drug use, then you should still have a conversation with them about their inappropriate behaviors. Establish goals for reform and monitor their progress closely, applying sanctions if necessary.

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