Last time we discussed how substance misuse affects businesses. Today we will look at what employers can do to address substance abuse in the workplace.
According to the National Safety Council, 10-15% of all employees are personally affected by substance abuse, whether it is alcohol, opioids, marijuana or other substances. When family members are included the number affected is closer to 30%.
When considering that nearly one out of three employees are directly or indirectly affected by substance use, employers need to have a plan.
Some employers have found success with the following strategies. Please consult your own legal council and professional organizations to discuss your particular circumstances.
Many employers do not realize that alcoholism and addiction to legally-prescribed opioids is now considered an ADA-protected disability. Current use of illegal drugs is not protected. An individual who is in recovery from a problem with alcohol or with legal or illegal drugs is protected from discrimination under the ADA. However, employers can take action against an employee who uses or possesses alcohol or drugs in violation of the employer's policy, is unfit for duty because of alcohol or drug use, or fails to meet the employer's expectations in terms of performance, conduct or attendance, even if the failure is because of substance abuse.
Again, this information is not intended to be legal counsel, but only suggestions as to actions employers might take.
Lynn Saylor is the AmeriCorps member working with the United Against Opioid Abuse Initiative alongside the White County United Way. She is a major facilitator of the United Council on Opioids serving White County and a regular contributor to local media.