Dealing with intoxicated employees

Dealing with an intoxicated person can be difficult. When talking to the person you think may be affected by alcohol or another drug, it’s important to focus on the behaviours that have caused concern at the workplace.

Making accusations of drunkenness or drug abuse including ‘finger pointing’ should be avoided. 

Procedure for employees

In the first instance take steps to ensure the health, safety and security of yourself, other people and the environment. 

If you think that a person is not fit for work as a result of alcohol and/or other drugs, you should:

  • immediately inform your manager or a staff member from the human resources (HR) department 
  • if necessary, approach the person using non-judgmental language that focuses on your concern about safety rather than on the use of substances. 
    • Encourage them to rest in the break room or go outside for some fresh air.
    • Take a caring approach and offer them a glass of water until a manager or someone from HR arrives.  

If there is any doubt about whether the employee is affected by alcohol or drugs, it’s better to take action to prevent an incident from occurring rather than taking the risk.

Procedure for managers and supervisors

If you believe that an employee may be affected by alcohol and/or drugs, you need to:

  1. Ensure the employee ceases all work and is moved to a confined/safe environment.
  2. If the employee does not leave the immediate area, isolate other employees from the suspected intoxicated employee.
  3. Make arrangements for the employee to be immediately assessed by a medical practitioner or person nominated by HR to ensure the employee is not suffering any health concerns. If required, take the employee to a health professional for further examination.
  4. If the employee is assessed to be unfit for work by the nominated person within the organisation or a medical professional, organise for the employee’s safe travel home and call them later in the day to see if they are OK.
  5. Document the incident in detail.

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