Last year I hired a marketing manager to help with PR for our fast-growing online business.
Recently she has been turning up with red eyes and a hacking cough. She usually does a great job but in the past few weeks she has made some highly annoying mistakes, such as putting the wrong phone number on media releases. She has started to get quite friendly with the other staff. Then yesterday I noticed a few of my staff coming back from lunch with red eyes. Maybe she is dealing!
My inclination is to haul the lot of them up this afternoon, give them a stern lecture and then have them all drug tested. But I have no idea if that breaches their rights?
What am I allowed to do?
Dear Seeing Red,
And they complain about drug-taking in football. All those footballers have to do is vaguely aim a ball between two goal posts, not operate heavy equipment, negotiate their way through heavy sales presentations or get cash out of tight-arsed big corporates!
Don’t think you are alone. Employers are complaining about drug use at work throughout the country. The fact is that many employees are turning up to work off their faces but the good news is you do have rights.
If the employee is operating heavy equipment you should have a zero tolerance policy. If you suspect drug use, ask them straight up. Remind them of the illicit drug use policy that they signed on day one and march them out the door. You cannot risk the safety of other employees and you will also be doing them a favor.
Drug-taking should also not be tolerated, even for those staff who sit all day at computers. Take Red Eyes aside. It is no use asking her straight out if she is taking drugs because she will deny it. (Think of your teenagers.)
Instead share with her your concerns. Ask her if there are any difficulties you can help her with and then raise your suspicions. (Remember Red Eyes might have screaming triplets and not slept for a year.)
If she admits to the drug use, once again remind her of the policy she signed on day one – (or will soon sign) and give her a strict warning. Any breach, march her out. That should send a strong message to other staff.
I know how tempting it is to have someone come in and drug test them but that is a fairly extreme measure.