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Caution Urged When Addressing Drug Issues

Social media and blurry work/life boundaries mean employers can learn a lot about employees’ out-of-work activities, but employment lawyers warn they should be very cautious about addressing them. One of the most important things to remember when faced with an issue such as drug use is that the courts don’t like employers delving into an employee’s personal life where it is not affecting the workplace. If an employer is going to concern itself with an employee’s drug or alcohol use, there really needs to be a nexus or a link to the employment. Any action taken by an employer should focus on performance (including misconduct), or safety. If an employee is regularly arriving at work late, or not completing their allocated tasks on time, employers should deal with them as they would any other under-performing employee. However, if an employee is attending work under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and they’re inhibited from performing their duties, the employer can simply deal with that as a misconduct issue. Before taking any action about drug use, employers should check their policies, and employees’ awards or agreements, to ensure they comply with any relevant provisions.

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