AbstractWhen an employer suspects a worker has been drinking on the job or is intoxicated at work, it should respond to ensure the safety of the employee, their co-workers and customers. That response may entail doing a quick investigation and having a conversation with the employee, along with possibly sending them for breath alcohol testing and escorting them home. Discipline can range from a final written warning to suspension without pay to immediate termination, said Debra Friedman, an attorney with Cozen O'Connor in Philadelphia. Investigate and Develop an Initial Response - Employers should first confirm the suspicion that an employee has been drinking, said James Reidy, an attorney with Sheehan Phinney in Manchester, N.H. Is the suspicion based on rumor? Is it based on the employee's attendance after a long weekend? Is it based on observation by others, such as a co-worker seeing an employee drinking in a car, on break or at lunch? Is it because of the smell of alcohol on or around the employee? Or is the employee slurring words, having difficulty with motor skills or falling asleep at work? Employers need to make sure there's not some other reason, such as a reaction to medication or a medical condition such as Parkinson's disease or narcolepsy. "While drinking on the job or coming in to work under the influence of alcohol is never acceptable, it is more of a problem in some jobs—for example, truck driver, pilot, school bus driver [and] forklift operator," Reidy said.
CitationSmith, A. (2023). How to Respond to Drinking on the Job. SHRM.
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