A leading human resources expert has warned that a growing number of substance abuse issues are coming to his office.
Founder of HR solutions company HR Buddy, Damien McCarthy said more and more conversations about issues such as performance, absenteeism, behavior and competence are linked to the lifestyle of workers.
HR Buddy represents small and medium sized employers and Damien has experienced, particularly since the restrictions were lifted, a huge performance and labor relations issue. One thing that keeps coming up is the use of drugs and in particular cocaine.
“In one case I handled, an employee approached the business owner for a loan and openly admitted it was to feed his cocaine habit. We have other indirect examples of employers being approached for salary advancements. There are also disturbing work relationship scenarios where people are irritating or surly towards their co-workers and communicate and engage differently and erratically.
“There’s a clear question that all of this is linked to a broader drug addiction problem in society. Before, it was a case of -keep your head down and stay away on Monday mornings, because you had one too many drinks on a Sunday night. However, in today’s society this is a much darker and more dangerous substance abuse problem and many workplaces don’t know how to deal with it” , said HR Buddy CEO and co-founder Damien McCarthy.
The problem is also coming to the surface in remote and home-based work situations and McCarthy is concerned that it may not become more acceptable in remote work situations as the effects of substance abuse in the workplace are not not reported, as they have the same adverse effects. .
“It may be hidden more easily in a remote and home work environment, but it can have the same negative impact on a workplace and someone’s career,” McCarthy commented.
McCarthy points out that workplaces should offer an employee assistance program and have a very clear substance abuse policy.
“The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 sets out how employers and employees must respond if someone is intoxicated by illegal or legal drugs or alcohol at work . It is the duty of the employer to ensure, as far as possible, the safety, health and welfare at work of all employees. This includes managing and conducting work activities to prevent inappropriate conduct or behavior that could put employees at risk,” McCarthy added.
McCarthy also points out that employees also have a duty of care.
“It is the duty of the employee to ensure that he is not intoxicated at work. This is especially true when their intoxication could harm their own health, safety or well-being or that of others.
“If an employer suspects behavior or performance problems due to drug or alcohol intoxication, they may use their discretion to decide how to respond. If the employee undertakes safety-critical work , such as the use of machinery, it is then crucial In cases where they are not carrying out safety-critical work, the employer still has a duty of care to them and other employees, which means that he must conduct a risk assessment of the employee’s behavior and judge the best way to respond to the situation.
As an employee, if you notice someone clearly intoxicated at work, it is your responsibility to report this behavior to a supervisor,” McCarthy concluded.