HR tip: Drunk employee

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These questions are being answered by Learn HR, a market leader in the provision of HR and payroll training and nationally-recognised professional qualifications.

Question: "An employee turned up for work one afternoon drunk. He was sent home. Next day, when we remonstrated with him, he insisted that he was not drunk though had popped into the pub for a half pint. How do we stand?"

HR Tip: You can insist that he was drunk and treat him accordingly, if you have good reason to believe that he was drunk. Alcohol on the breath would alone be insufficient evidence of drunkenness though you could discipline him if his bad breath might adversely affect work colleagues or customers.

Ideally, if you suspect someone of being drunk or incapable of work through use of illegal drugs or even prescribed medicines, have an assessment made by at least two managers or supervisors. Look for evidence such as inability to walk straight, slurred speech, difficulty focussing, alcohol on breath. And finally commit the assessment to writing and have the assessors sign it. You do not need a medical examination or breathalyser test. The well founded assessment of two people is sufficient evidence on which you can discipline someone for being unfit for work due to the influence of alcohol or other substance.

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