Ideally, we all go to work and never have to deal with something as reckless as a drunk employee. But unfortunately, the sad reality is that this can happen from time to time. Whether you’re in Human Resources or a manager of employees, you need to be aware of how to handle such a situation and general best practices.

Here, we’ll go over how to test an individual in the workplace for intoxication, proper protocols for ordering a test, and how to inform employees of a positive alcohol or drug test result.

Acting On Suspicion of Impairment

As an HR representative or manager, it is your job to notice signs of impairment, such as slurred speech or uncontrolled bodily actions in employees. Once these signs have been confirmed, they need to be documented as the reasons for issuing an intoxication test. This demonstrates that the test was issued fairly and in accordance with proper procedure.

While a “Reasonable Suspicion” test can occur, the following criteria must be met:

  • The manager in charge must have information from a credible source of employee impairment. This means the employee is unfit to continue working due to drug or alcohol misuse.
    • Impairment can mean being seen using drugs or alcohol on company property or during scheduled work time, or an employee’s appearance, actions, or work performance suggests intoxication.
  • Test approval must come from a Senior or Appointing manager.

If the source is not credible, act on the knowledge by conducting your own investigation into the matter. If you personally see signs of intoxication, this is enough for suspicion of impairment.

Drug & Alcohol Testing Clinic

Ordering & Conducting Drug & Alcohol Testing

If there is suspicion of impairment, the manager is well within their rights to order the employee to stop work immediately and be moved to a safe location to await the arrival of the drug and alcohol test. Standing the individual down must be communicated clearly to that person.

Certain testing agencies have an emergency response system in place for reasonable suspicion or post-incident tests. Racoo Screening offers tests for a number of for-cause situations, including post-incident, post-accident, near-miss, and reasonable suspicion. Contact the proper testing agency and provide the necessary data they need to deliver a test to you as promptly as possible.

What to Do with an Employee’s Positive Result

When an alcohol or drug test comes back positive, you need to verbally inform the employee of the positive result. The test results should also be communicated to HR, and the employee is not allowed to return to work that day. HR and managers will liaise regarding the results, which also includes liaising with the employee.

The employee must receive confirmation of the positive test in writing or via email. They also need to be placed on a precautionary suspension pending a full investigation into the matter. This is when formal disciplinary action can take place. You can dismiss the employee from the company due to cause, or you can opt for a lighter punishment depending on circumstances.

Drunk employees are never fun, but safety is the ultimate goal of any workplace. If you suspect an employee is intoxicated on-site, do not hesitate. Do your due diligence, follow up with the employee, schedule a reasonable suspicion test, and go through the proper channels for confirmation and reprimanding.