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What is Drug-Free Workplace?

Drug-Free Workplace Program FAQ

What Does a Drug Free Workplace Mean?

Implementing a Drug Free Workplace program is beneficial to both employers and employees..

  • It promotes a safe and healthy working environment.
  • It reduces injuries, absenteeism, and tardiness.
  • It helps the business to grow and prosper.
  • Employees improve consistently on their productivity and efficiency in delivering quality service to clients.
  •  It helps reduce workers’ compensation and healthcare costs.
  • It attracts and retains a quality workforce. It also boosts employees’ morale.
  • It makes you compliant with government requirements and collective bargaining agreements.
  • It qualifies the employer to avail of insurance incentives given to drug-free workplaces.





What is included in the Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program?

The Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program has five key components.

  1. A written policy serves as the framework for the program.
  2. Employee education The employer has to inform all employees about the program before its implementation.
  3. Supervisor training Supervisors need the training to help implement the program. They must know how to do documentation, drug-testing procedures, employee reintegration, and other related matters.
  4. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) EAP’s help employees with drug-related problems that may affect their job performance.
  5. Drug testing Many private employers use testing guidelines issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).




What is the role of the supervisors with the Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program?

The Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program sends a clear message that alcohol use in the workplace is prohibited and urges employees who have problems with alcohol and other drugs to seek help voluntarily.

Supervisors are critical to the successful implementation of the Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program. Not only are they supposed to know about policies and procedures, but also to be able to execute their expected duties.

Essential supervisory responsibilities include:

  • Maintain a safe, secure, and productive environment for employees
  • Evaluate and discuss performance with employees
  • Treat all employees fairly.
  • Act in a manner that does not demean or label people




How should an employer approach an employee who is found to be working under the influence?

When an employer found that an employee is working under the influence of alcohol, they should:

  • Talk to the employee privately and remind him/her of the possible impact on performance.
  • Don’t accuse but ask the employee in a non-judgemental way of his concerns instead. The employee might confess to having a problem with alcohol or reveal other medical or mental conditions.
  • Help the employee by referring to the company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP). If the employee denies issues or problems, the human resources will address performance, then follow through with progressive discipline if the situation doesn’t improve.
  • Keep clear documentation of their concerns with specific examples.




What is the employee’s status when he submits himself to rehabilitation?

There is no change to the status of an employee when he submits himself or herself to rehabilitation. There are federal laws and policies in place to help protect employees from losing their jobs.

People with past or current drug abuse problems or alcohol problems are protected from discrimination by:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Under the terms of the ADA, employers cannot fire employees merely because of their enrollment in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees to take weeks off because of their severe conditions.

An employer cannot fire an employee simply because that employee takes 12 weeks off to treat a substance.





What steps should be done prior to returning to work?

If an employee has completed rehab and plans to return to work, he or she should speak to the employer about two things: 1. the dates he or she will not go to work for ongoing treatment, or if the employee needs modified works hours to accommodate the treatment, so that the employer can support the employee’s recovery; and

  1. terms for the Return-to-Work Agreement (RWA) that the employee and employer can agree on. Lawyers for both sides should be present when discussing the RWA.






What is a Return-To-Work Agreement?

A Return to Work Agreement or RWA is a written agreement that outlines the employer’s expectations for the returning employee’s behavior. Following the completion of rehab, the employee agrees to abstain from alcohol or narcotics as a condition of returning to work.

The RWA should be very specific about the employer’s expectations of the employee, as well as the consequences for breaching the agreement, such as employment termination. Both employers and employees should consult with lawyers before entering into any RWAs to ensure protection and to make sure that the agreement follows appropriate laws.




What will happen if the employee has been found out to be under the influence again?

Even if the employee has breached the Return to Work Agreement and can be fired, it is important for the employer to check the following, especially if the employer does not want to fire the employee:

  • if the employee admitted his/her relapse/s;
  • nature of the relapse/s;
  • effect on the workplace and other employees; and
  • if the employee still has a strong chance for recovery.

Employers may also want to consider using the Last Chance Agreement, an agreement between an employer and an employee setting out terms the employee must comply with to keep the job.





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