6 Tips for Dealing With an Employee Suspected of Drinking

No employer wants to deal with the unfortunate situation of an employee being intoxicated at work but it does happen. Here are some steps to help you deal with the issue at hand.

Gather Data

For instance, skim the employee’s personnel file to see if co-workers have made any formal complaints related to alcohol abuse such as smelling of alcohol or intoxication during the workday. Information like absenteeism and productivity records will help verify whether the drinking, if occurring, is affecting the employee’s job performance.

Meet With the Employee

  • Schedule a meeting for a Friday so, if the employee become angry or embarrassed, they have the weekend to mull over it and cool off.
  • During the meeting, point out where the employee is performing well before bringing up areas where work has slipped from the usual standards and express concern that it may be due to an alcohol issue.
  • Present the data you have gathered and assure the employee they are not being fired, that they are a true asset to your company and you would like to see them healthy.
  • Let the employee present an explanation, there behavior could be due to a new medication or another provable illness.
  • Explain that they have rights to health services to rehabilitate employees.

Set Goals

Whether or not the employee admits to a problem, your rights as an employer are to evaluate how this individual is performing in their position. Help them set goals for how they are going to step up and work on their areas that are slacking.


You are still obligated to enforce disciplinary policies, let the employee know that this is somewhat of a warning and if their performance does not improve you will have to resort to termination.

Write Up a Summary

Put detailed notes of everyting that happened during the meeting for official personnel records. Both parties will sign and date, then each will receive copies.


keep an eye on the employee and make sure they are adhering to the discipline policy and provide positive reinforcement when they show any improvement.

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