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28 Jan 2004

employing an addict
I have an employee who is a heroin addict and has been to rehab after self reporting the problem to me six months ago. I initially applauded him for his responsible attitude to his problem but am currently struggling as he has relapsed several times. He has needle tracks, comes to work late and everytime I confront him does not deny the problem but neither can he say why he relapses.
His job is quite a responsible one and people can be hurt or die if his judgement is impaired.
Please give some advice as disciplinary action / termination of services is an avenue I'd rather not take.
Answer 503 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear Frederick,
You are to be commended for being patient, so far, and trying to help this young man. A problem in trying to be helpful, is to be sure that one is genuinely helpful, rather than facilitating and enabling the person to continue with their addiction. And I am really disappointed in so many "rehab" programs which seem to fail their clients by providing limited or no followup and continuing support and expert help to STAY off the drug. Merely stopping it briefly, is trivial.
It may be worth getting the advice of a labour lawyer about appropriate discipliniary procedures, as the effects of formal warnings and a realistic chance of dismisal might actually help him to face the fact that continuing in a job like this and using heroin cannot happen. And you might find yourself in some significant legal luiability if, having known about his addiction and relapses, you failed to take any appropriate disciplinary steps towards dismissal, given the fact that people can "be hurt or die" if his judgement is impaired.
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