Last Chance Agreements
There is another tool for accountability that can be used in certain situations with an employee if you have decided that their next disciplinary action is termination. This tool makes it very clear that certain behaviour will not be tolerated.
Basically, it is a document that is drawn up by the employer where it has been agreed that no more chances will be given to this employee unless certain continued conditions are met. Legal counsel is desirable in this type of agreement to make sure that the document is solid in the eyes of the law. It is then thoroughly explained to the employee what the conditions are for continued employment like passing drug tests or showing up for work on time for example. The effect of the agreement is that it promotes the idea that there is a limit to what the employer will tolerate. The employee hopefully gets the picture that firm boundaries are in place and the next and final action will be termination.
The employee agrees to behave in an acceptable manner going forward and could be terminated without a grievance or a legal dispute if problems arise. That agreement is then signed as a condition for their return to work. This may be a very useful tool as it promotes responsible action by helping the person realize that there are serious consequences to continued poor choices that affect workplace performance.
Unfortunately, with some individuals, even that consequence does not promote enough motivation for a change in behaviour. They slip and get back on some substance and are caught and that is that. Strangely enough, this is when many addicts actually look at themselves after they have lost their job so this scenario can have a positive outcome. I have seen recovering addicts re-apply for their job after a year of clean time and get it because they have straightened out their life so all is not lost.
What do you do if you think there may be hope when the employee slips? You can keep an employee working after they violated a last chance agreement if you feel they deserve another chance. Maybe a re-assessment is in order to see what their motivation for change really is and if there is a solid action plan. You can then let them go or keep them on the payroll as you will have more information to make your choice after the assessment. There may have been a good long period of acceptable behaviour and you may believe that the slip was more of a bump in the road than a permanent decent. Again, last chance agreements are not for all situations but simply another tool worth knowing about in dealing with substance abuse issues. From what I have seen, accountability promotes behaviour change with substance abuse and addiction and this is one way to help and keep the workplace safe.