Cali Estes featured in Entrepreneur magazine

4 Steps to Deal with an Employee’s Substance Abuse  Problem

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227811#ixzz2dBOQMxy0

 

The odds of substance abuse issues finding their way into your business are  sizeable. According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ 2011  National Survey on Drug Use and Health, of the 18.9 million adults classified  with dependence or abuse, nearly 52 percent were employed.

“Many employers miss  the signs,” says Cali Estes, a certified drug and alcohol therapist who works  with companies and individuals dealing with substance abuse in the workplace and  elsewhere.

Those signs can be subtle, but might include physical signs like bloodshot  eyes and residual alcohol smell. Others include excessive absences, coming to  work late and leaving early. Some drugs might make the user active, so someone  who is up and walking around all the time and who looks really busy, but isn’t  getting anything done might be showing signs of addiction, Estes says. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence publishes  this list of common signs.

When employees have addiction issues, it can affect the company in a number  of ways, ranging from lost productivity to significant liability if an employee  is drunk or high on the job and causes property damage or injury.

Related: How to Deliver Uncomfortable  Employee Feedback

Every company should have a written substance use and abuse policy that  prohibits using drugs or alcohol during work hours and gives the employer  recourse if the employee’s performance is being affected by drug or alcohol  abuse after-hours. Employees should be required to read and sign the agreement  upon hire, Estes says.

And if you do suspect an employee has a problem, take these four steps.

1. Gather resources. Most communities have substance  abuse prevention agencies and resources. Check out a few local organizations to  determine if they have any education materials or recommended resources for  individuals dealing with substance abuse. Having a list of support groups,  treatment facilities, and other resources lets you give your employee a place to  start to deal with his or her issue. Make this list available to everyone in the  company.

2. Explore your insurance coverage. If you have  employer-provided health insurance, call your insurance company to determine  what treatment is covered and if they have recommended resources in the  community. Estes says that insurance coverage can vary wildly from policy to  policy, so it’s important to understand what is covered so you can encourage  your employee to take the appropriate action for his or her financial  circumstances.

“Checking into rehab could be a $30,000 to $50,000 expense. Getting treatment  on an outpatient basis is an option and is typically much less expensive,” Estes  says.

3. Consult your lawyer. From setting your substance  abuse policy to firing someone who’s used drugs on the job, you need to consult  your attorney throughout the process of dealing with an addicted employee. You  need to be sure your policy complies with state and federal employment laws and  that any termination complies with those laws, as well, while also protecting  your company from liability if the employee does damage while under the  influence of drugs or alcohol.

4. Take action. The worst thing you can do is ignore  the signs of substance abuse. If you see an employee who shows common signs, you  need to address the issue directly by having a private conversation with the  employee in which you review the company’s policy, express your concerns, and  provide any resources you’ve gathered, Estes says.

“Usually if their job is on the line, we can say, ‘If you don’t get some form  of help, you’re going to get fired.’ In states where that’s in compliance with  the law, that usually works,” she says.

Related: Why Transparency Is Essential  to a Trusting Staff  

Read more stories about:    Management,    Managing employees,    Legal issues

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s  Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227811#ixzz2dBOKAhAB

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