When do a few drinks after work turn into a potential HR nightmare?

Date: Wednesday, 1st May, 2019

In a culture where regular heavy drinking and partying has become normal behaviour, many of us are no strangers to a drink after work. A glass of wine or two with work colleagues to put the week to rights or an informal brainstorming session over a few beers to bond away from the constraints of the office.

But as a business owner, you no doubt recognise that alcohol can turn into a serious problem if it’s not carefully managed.

Whats the course of action if:

a) An employee turned up for their shift looking worse for wear and constantly late?

b) Rowdy behaviour in the pub brought your business into disrepute?

and c) What is the difference between an employee enjoying a couple of drinks, and a business being faced with a more serious problem?

You need to understand this…

You have legal obligations under The Health and Safety at work Act 1974, The Transport and Works Act 1992 and The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Have policies that ensure issues are handled fairly and consistently and sufficient training for managers to deal with any workers who need help.

It would be well to note here that taking a hardline approach rarely serves anyone well. You probably don’t need us to tell you that confronting an employee with a serious problem and telling them off isn’t going to fix anything.

As a responsible employer, you’ve got a duty of care to make sure that you support your employees through difficult time. Which is a solid reason why many employers view alcohol and drug problems as illnesses that need to be treated through rehabilitation practices.

Drugs are a different issue entirely, as they’re less socially acceptable and can have a more damaging impact on a person’s life.

Remember that if you have a team of managers, their role is important. Can they spot potential problems? Do they have the confidence and ability to tackle them? Do they know where to turn to for expert help if things start to escalate?

If you don’t have an issue like this in your workplace at the moment, then that’s great. 

It pays to be prepared though, handling issues like this is going to be difficult for all involved.

This is complex stuff, and you don’t have to manage it on your own.

Get in touch for a confidential discussion around how we might be able to help you deal with alcohol and drug problems at work.

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