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Two steps to follow if your employee is abusing drugs

by , 12 August 2016
Two steps to follow if your employee is abusing drugsSo an employee of yours has been caught napping on the job on several occasions! You're not impressed by this behaviour at all, and so decide to hold a disciplinary hearing.

But in the disciplinary hearing, you discover a shocking truth behind her behaviour, namely that she's addicted to sleeping tablets.

This confession will more than likely throw you off completely! And understandably so, because let's face it, what do you do now?

Well, here's the answer: you should follow the following two steps...

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Two steps to follow if your employee is abusing drugs
 

STEP#1: Establish the root of the behaviour  

In South Africa, drug addictions, including those to prescription drugs, are considered to be an illness, and so treatment should take preference over discipline.

But this should only be done if illness can be established.

That's right! If you can show that the employee doesn't have an addiction, then discipline is acceptable!

In the case of Transnet Freight Rail v Transnet Bargaining Council and others (LC Case no.: C644/2009 Date of judgment: 4 March 2011), an employee was dismissed for coming to work drunk. The decision to dismiss her was deemed fair because there was no sign of illness. This conclusion was based on the fact that the employee didn't claim to be an alcoholic, and simply stated that she was going through 'problems'. Therefore, her behaviour was classified as misconduct and not incapacity due to illness (namely a drug addiction).

This in turn justified her dismissal.

STEP#2: Pursue a treatment strategy

If an illness is established, then the next step would be to implement a strategy, which includes

·         Sending her to a rehabilitation centre;
·         Providing her with professional counselling; an d/or
·         Referring her to self-help groups; etc.
 
But you should only do so if these two additional criteria can also be met:

·         If the correction of a disability can restore satisfactory conduct;  and
·         If the employee had previously been working well and could improve through treatment.



*At the end of the day. you need to remember that sleeping-tablet abuse is not uncommon, but instead it's an unfortunate reality that many employees, and even employers, struggle with every day. 

That's where these two steps come into play. You need to ensure that if an employee suffers from an illness due to drug abuse, you take measures to treat it, and not penalise it. 

PS: If you want learn more useful steps on getting discipline right in the workplace, without landing up in trouble with the CCMA, simply page over to Chapter D 02 in your Labour Law for Managers handbook, or click here to order your copy today.
 
 
 


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