Last Chance Agreements

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.last chance

Alcohol and Drug Testing are not Illegal if done within a policy. Do they have a policy?

The recent arrest of a Sunwing Airlines pilot in Calgary is spurring questions about Canadian laws around alcohol testing for pilots and crew—protocols which appear to be unclear to airlines themselves, Global News has learned.

On Dec. 31, the pilot tested at three times over the legal alcohol limit two hours after he was found unconscious in the cockpit.

READ MORE: Calgary police charge Sunwing Airlines pilot with being drunk before takeoff

Sunwing spokesperson Jacqueline Grossman originally suggested it is “illegal in Canada to do mandatory full or random drug or alcohol testing on employees” in an email to Global News Monday night.

But the federal government says there is no specific provision in the Canada Labour Code addressing alcohol or drug testing in the workplace.

“This is the first such incident that has occurred in our 11-year history as an airline,” Grossman said in an updated statement Tuesday.

“As a federally regulated airline with unionized workers, our initial legal advice has been that we are not in a position to enforce drug or alcohol testing for our workers. That said, it is a complex legal issue which requires further review.”

Watch below: Miroslav Gronych, 37, will appear in court Jan. 5 after police say his blood alcohol was three times the legal limit. Reid Fiest reports.

Miroslav Gronych, a Slovakian national in Canada on a work visa, was escorted from the aircraft after the gate crew and the co-pilot noticed odd behaviour and alerted police. He was charged with having care and control of an aircraft while impaired and having care and control of an aircraft while having a blood alcohol level over .08 (or exceeding 80 mgs of alcohol per 100mL of blood).

Calgary police said he was released on $1,000 bail and had to surrender his passport. He is also suspended from flying any other aircraft in Canada.

Dr. Gregg Bendrick, an aerospace medicine specialist who also works as a senior aviation medical examiner with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), said Monday there is a clear drug and alcohol testing program for commercial airline pilots in the U.S., which includes a random testing component. He said anyone identified as impaired would then be evaluated to see if they suffer from alcoholism.

READ MORE: Sunwing Airlines on drunk pilot arrested in Calgary – all foreign pilots trained, approved

He said the reading of “three times the legal limit” reported by Calgary police would mean a reading of about 2.4 mgs of alcohol per 100mL of blood, raising the possibility of an addiction.

Grossman said Gronych had “no previous violations of this nature in his file” and that he’s been suspended pending a Jan. 5 court date.

Grossman originally referred Global News to the Canadian Human Rights Act for details on how a “non-legislated drug or alcohol testing program in a private sector company would be challenged.”

But Employment and Social Development Canada said random testing is legal.

“Random testing of employees in safety-sensitive positions (defined as those in which incapacity due to drug or alcohol impairment could result in direct and significant risk of injury to the employee, others or the environment) has been determined to be permissible in a number of circumstances, as long as employees are notified that alcohol testing is a condition of employment,” spokesperson Amélie Maisonneuve said in an email sent Tuesday to Global News.

“Currently, there is no specific provision in the Canada Labour Code addressing drug and alcohol testing in the workplace.”

She then referred Global News to the Canadian Human Rights Commission on their Policy on Alcohol and Drug Testing, which reads, in part:

If testing is part of a broader program of medical assessment, monitoring and support, employers can test for alcohol in any of the following situations:

  • on a random basis, for employees who hold safety-sensitive positions;
  • for “reasonable cause,” where an employee reports for work in an unfit state and there is evidence of substance abuse;
  • after a significant incident or accident has occurred and there is evidence that an employee’s act or omission may have contributed to the incident or accident; or
  • following treatment for alcohol abuse, or disclosure of a current alcohol dependency or abuse

Transport Canada said it is “currently reviewing the pilot’s records and Sunwing Airlines’ procedures and protocols,” however, said the airline is responsible for any disciplinary action against the pilot. A spokesperson said alcohol testing was outside the realm of Transport Canada’s involvement in the incident.

“Air carriers are responsible for their own human resources policies, including random drug and alcohol testing,” spokesperson Natasha Gauthier said in an email to Global News.

Air Canada and the Air Canada Pilots Association did not respond to Global News requests for comment on their policies.

A WestJet spokesperson said the company has an “alcohol and drug policy that provides for testing in a manner that is consistent with Canadian law.” WestJet declined to comment on the specifics of the policy, including whether pilots are aware of alcohol testing and whether it is random.

With files from Reid Fiest

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Pilot charged with being impaired was 3 times the legal limit, say Calgary police Sunwing Airlines flight to Cancun had more than 100 people on board Saturday morning

Pilot charged with being impaired was 3 times the legal limit, say Calgary police

Sunwing Airlines flight to Cancun had more than 100 people on board Saturday morning

By Drew Anderson, David Bell, CBC News Posted: Dec 31, 2016 12:49 PM MT Last Updated: Dec 31, 2016 8:29 PM MTPilot Drunk on Duty

Well, not much to say about this other than has anything changed? Where was the co pilot? Can the pilot waltz onboard and pass out? Continue reading

This Employee Straightened Up and Taught Me Something

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Yesterday I ran into an employee whom I had seen for an assessment several years ago. I knew that he had been doing all right as he had called me a few times wanting to clarify some things I had recommended but I had not seen him face to face for almost 2 years though. At the time of the assessment he was in a mess, taking cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis regularly and working in a safety sensitive job. His employer was seeing signs of something but they were not sure what. They figured it out that it may be substance abuse related and they asked me to see him. I saw him and it was a protracted and complicated case which was drawn out and was many months before the guy returned to work. He was in bad shape but really did not see this at all at the time. He was in denial badly. I knew that there was a well- functioning adult in there somewhere or at least I was hoping. He also had a young wife who was expecting.

Well, eventually he finally satisfied me that he was doing ok and went back to work. He had some things to work through but eventually he thanked me. I told him he should thank his company for putting in checks and balances in their policy and making him accountable for his behavior. That is what helped him and he just made a choice to do something different and work at his decision.

So when I saw him at the gas station yesterday I saw that he had a nice car and he was cleaned up very well. He seemed happy. I asked him if he had been naughty or nice because there is only 7 weeks left till Christmas. He told me that he was being nice and his daughter was now two years old. I was very pleased with this for several reasons.

First, glad to see a guy straighten up and fly right instead of making a mess of his life. One addict affects many others so they are not being affected right now.

The other reason is that I get people who have problems but they cannot see it. They eventually get fired or reprimanded and sometimes they blame their behavior on me which is typical of someone who is trying not to look at theirs. Sometimes these cases bother me emotionally as I don’t’ like being the bad guy whom people are mad at because of what they do. I become the fall guy. Yesterday after I saw the cleaned up employee I decided that it was all worth it. His wife will have a marriage with an adult not a child. They will have material things. The child will be brought up in a sane atmosphere without fear. This was all possible because his employer recognized that safety was number one and they made him accountable for his own behaviour.

Alcoholic High Wire Act in the Workplace

The Alcoholic High Wire Act

I have heard it said that watching the alcoholic is like watching the high wire act at a circus. This is a good analogy which explains the relationship that the addict has with people around him or her. There are themes common in all addictions that we can see when we recognize patterns and are looking in the right places.

At the circus the high wire performer climbs the big supports and the crowd gets nervous. “Look how high it is” they exclaim! They are excited to see what he is going to do and how he is going to pull off the next part of the act.  He walks across the small wire balancing a long pole and the crowd’s heart paces. The circus actor who has done this many times before takes the crowd through death defying feats but always winds up fine on the other end. Part of the suspense comes from the observer’s minds knowing that the circus actor could wind up dead on the hard floor if he falls but he never does. He builds his performance and just keeps on doing more and more dangerous things until the act ends in a heart pumping finale. The crowd knows he is on that high dangerous high wire and they know anything can happen but he always comes out of it and they are relax and become relieved.

Here is one of the major points I have been telling people for years. The problem with our society is that it believes it has to wait for the grand finale to play out before anything is done with an addict but society is wrong. You don’t have to wait for disaster to happen. With the correct process you can act now!

This high wire act explains the performance of a drinking alcoholic or drug addict perfectly. Many around the addict know that there is a problem and they also know that maybe the next performance could be bad but they hope it will be better. They look and they wait. Individuals look in anticipation at what the next act will be. He is in trouble again at work or with the police or with his family. She has another divorce and her kids are mad. How will he ever get out of this one? They all watch with wonder at how the addict skillfully guides everyone’s eyes to something other than his/her drug that is causing the problem but never ever the addict themselves. We then question our own sanity because we think we are seeing things. “Maybe it is not the drug at all” we say.

The addict then shows us that it is always someone else’s fault. It may be their bad childhood, terrible life, ex-wife, awful kids, the bad deal at work, the stock market, – something is making this poor person miserable. No wonder they drink we think. You would drink too! Everyone watches with amazement but no one does anything but watch. They sit back and wait for the finale.

Summer Vacation

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After I got my yearly house chores done I went on vacation. The weather up here has been amazing and I know snow will be coming so that is my lazy excuse for not blogging.

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My wife has a book out on Oak Island and I went on a reading tour with her in Nova Scotia. We looked at a lot of history but the most amazing thing was Overton Stone in Yarmouth, N.S. I took a picture above and it may help solve the mystery of Oak Island and what is buried there. It shows some type of bond between the Native Indians (Mi’kmaq) and perhaps the Knights Templars. It could be that only the Mi’kmaq know what is there. It is an interesting story and I promise I will be back to addiction topics next week. I also have a book coming out myself about addiction in the workplace by October 19th on Kindle.

 

 

Success With Addiction in The Workplace

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What Constitutes Success?

The benchmarks of a successful alcohol and drug program should be based on safety, not whether the individual causing the problem changes or not. If it is run correctly, no one gets hurt and the person with problems has the opportunity to get help. That is success right there! If the person takes the help and changes that is a terrific bonus but that is not the ultimate goal.

What do you do with someone who does not want to stop drinking or drugging? You will realize with some education that there is nothing you can do to force them to stop. Gentle pressure can be put on people but the main pressure has to come from the person themselves. They have to get to a place where they know deep down that they are the ones that have to change. They begin to understand that they are responsible for their own problems. They see that no one is coming to save them because they have to save themselves.

Firing the person and then rehiring them without some type of verifiable change is not the answer. That happens and it just teaches an addict that they can get their job back without changing so the next time they drink or use they believe there are no consequences. True and long lasting change must come from within. If the desire for change is not there then that is your answer and you may as well know this sooner than later, they are not ready for change at this time.

People with alcohol and drug problems fail to stop drinking or drugging until they come to the realization that their usage will cause them problems. That is just the way it is. For an addict to recover many factors have to come into play and sometimes it is just is not the right time for them to see their part. They are not ready to stop yet and they may never stop. Do you do wait forever until they decide to stop and allow them to become a safety risk and liability for your company?  The whole is more important than the parts. There is a balance between safety and human rights.

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What is treatment?

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Treatment

Knowing an effective procedure to deal with substance abuse affecting the workplace is enough for a manager to be expected to know without having to understand the various types of treatment. Unless you work in this field it can be confusing.  Programs change quite a bit as well and are different everywhere you go. It would be helpful for managers and supervisors to be aware of the general categories of categories of help but to find out and understand all of the treatment options is too much to ask and it is not necessary. What is necessary is that the workplace be kept safe and secondly that the worker gets offered appropriate help if needed.  Leave the treatment choices between the employee and the SAP who assesses them.

Some companies have sent their employees away on expensive in-patient programs but the employee comes back and continues to get into trouble. The manager may tell me that they have already have had treatment so therefore it is not necessary. Firstly, I may tell the manager in a nice way that it is not working very well if the employee is still getting into trouble. I may also ask who recommended the help, how did they know it was the right choice, was there follow up and did the employee accept the continuing recommendations from the treatment center? There is more to treatment than being locked up for a month or two. That type of treatment is just a small part if it is necessary at all. What is important is what the employee does with the treatment afterwards. For that monitoring is required.

There are several categories of addiction treatment to be aware of if you are dealing with an employee that needs help. In-patient, out-patient, detoxification, aftercare and groups (both professional and mutual-help) are the general categories.

 

Drunk Driving – Cause For Concern in an Employee

 Drunk Driving Conviction

When someone shows such little control that they are charged for drinking and driving that is a big cause for alarm. Society is becoming more realistic about the dangers of drunk driving in recent years even though the media has minimized it in various ways.  The drunk driver is controlling a dangerous weapon, the automobile and there is a potential for great destruction.

Whether they have very poor judgment, an issue with addiction or both, there is something that is not right with an employee who drinks and drives in this day and age where information on the dangers are everywhere.  An opportunity to your employee assessed is right there for you. have

A drunk driving conviction is definitely a sign addiction although more information is needed. Some companies with an advanced alcohol or drug policies send their employees for an assessment when they find out that they have had a recent drunk driving conviction especially if the employee is in a safety sensitive job.

It just makes sense that if you have an employee that has a current drunk driving offence that there is a chance that they may have an alcohol problem that may affect their job performance and the company’s safety. Would you be comfortable with an employee operating an 80 foot crane in an industrial setting with lots of other employees underneath if you knew that they just lost their license for drunk driving recently? Wouldn’t you feel some kind of need to get this checked out? If they are a hard-core drinker they could have a seizure on the work site for example and kill someone. Alternatively, they could be still impaired from the night before or hung over and making poor choices. They could destroy equipment worth millions of dollars. What kind of reputation would your company have if some of these things happened to you and you were letting signs of impairment or addiction slide till the next time? These questions are very useful to think about.

Alcohol is a dangerous drug to some people that are unable to limit their usage. It is really one of the most dangerous drugs out there. It can kill quite easily. Read about why alcohol is called Europe’s Youth Killer. http://www.boes.org/world/europe/who010219alc.html  Alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs to have in the workplace.

Not long ago I had to convince a man that a drinking and driving offence on his vacation is still of interest to his employer especially where he drove as a condition of his job. He could not understand why it was any of his company’s business where he was not on the job. Since he lost his driving privileges he was no longer able to drive as was one of his duties. The employer in its lack of foresight just gave him another job where he did not have to drive. As a result of this the employee did not have to look at his problem. This was another example of a company enabling an employee to stay sick and thwarting any sort of realization of safety and drunk driving. The employer should have sent him for an assessment before he ever got back to work for a more effective experience. His employer was actually teaching him that drinking and driving was an ok activity and catered to him with a new job where he did not have to drive.

One of the themes that I bring up when interviewing an employee during an assessment is their legal history. I have noticed that there is a high correlation with addiction and drunk driving. The two go together and if someone has had a conviction it puts me on alert during the assessment that there may be a problem. Most average people do not drink and drive.

The law has recently changed where I live regarding boating safety. If boater gets a drunk driving charge and conviction on the water, part of the sentence is that they would also lose their driver’s license for the road as well. This is only logical and makes total sense to me. If you show little enough care for safety in operating a water craft, it says to me that you could easily drive a car drunk as well.

If someone demonstrates a lack of judgement using a powerful and potentially dangerous weapon called the automobile, what does that say about their thinking process and their capacity to do harm in your workplace?  This is a perfect opportunity to help the employee and protect the public by referring them to a substance abuse professional.