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What to do if your employee is an addict

by , 25 September 2013
A report by Health24 suggests that more than 11% of South Africans have addiction problems. Their top drugs of choice? Dagga and alcohol. This means it's possible you may be faced with a situation where one of your employees is a drug addict. Here's what to do if your employee has a dependency problem.

One instance you could be faced with when it comes to drug abuse is an employee who reports for duty 'high'.

This could suggest your employee is an addict.

But the big question is what can you do if your employee has a dependency problem?

Here's what to do if your employee's an addict

If your employee has a dependency problem and breaks one of your alcohol or drug related rules (for example, arrives high), you could treat it as both misconduct and incapacity.

Let's assume Jenny arrives at work high on dagga (. At her disciplinary hearing she admits she's a drug addict.

This means the chairperson will issue a sanction for her misconduct (being high) and also arrange for her to be sent for rehabilitation.

If she doesn't comply with the rehabilitation conditions, or be found to be under the influence again, she faces dismissal.

Warning: 'Be careful of employees using dependence as a defence when there's no proof of a dependency problem,' says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

The Loose Leaf adds that 'this is often effective, as employers tend to shy away from questioning employees who raise this as a defence.'

If you're in doubt, ask you employee to provide a medical report that states he has a problem.

Your employee must prove he's a drug addict!

Evidence can include the following:

  • Report from a medical practitioner
  • Report from any other person who has experience in dealing with addicts; and
  • Proof of going to AA meetings.

If your employee is an addict, you have to help him by offering him counseling and rehabilitation services. This is a requirement by the Code of Good Practice.

But if there's no evidence that he's an addict, you're entitled to deal with the employee's conduct as misconduct.


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