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Investigate before taking action

If an employee comes to work and you suspect he or she is under the influence of drugs then this could be a conduct issue if it is illegal drugs, but if the drugs are related to a medical condition then it could also be a capability issue.  It could be argued for example that the drugs are affecting his or her ability to carry out work tasks but that the employee needs to take the drugs as a result of a disability under the Equality Act.  Don’t jump to the wrong conclusion always carry out an investigation before taking any formal action.

During the investigation remain neutral and handle the matter promptly and gather all the relevant facts.  Keep a written record of the investigation.  Witnesses should be given an opportunity to read and correct their statements.  Following the investigation decide what action, if any action should be taken in respect of the employee.  Be firm and fair and consider each issue on its merits and avoid snap decisions.

You may decide to drop the matter, provide support to the employee or invoke the disciplinary procedure. Where disciplinary action is justified, you should be able to state the exact alleged ‘offence’ or problem, rather than general allegations against the employee.  You need to make sure that you are gathering accurate information that provides you with both the case for and against action being taken. You must always gather information as objectively as possible. Ask yourself:

Am I too involved to look at the facts objectively?
Have I discounted information that acts in favour of the employee?
Have I covered all angles, both in the meetings and outside of the meetings?
Have I considered all of the information when reaching my decision?
If following the investigation there is evidence of a breach of the drug and alcohol policy for example then the next step may be to invite the employee to attend a disciplinary meeting.

We are happy to chat to you about any staff issues and talk you through the relevant steps or alternatively you can outsource the matter for us to deal with in its entirety with our HARRIS LAW EXPRESS package.