The Work Couch - Addiction at work: Disciplinary or wellbeing issue?

Published on 10 April 2024

Welcome to The Work Couch, the podcast series where we explore how your business can navigate today's tricky people challenges and respond to key developments in the ever-evolving world of employment law.

Addiction comes in many forms; it is often hidden and, due to social stigma, is rarely discussed. In the work context, addiction and dependency can raise complex challenges for line managers and HR teams.

In this week's Work Couch podcast episode, Ellie Gelder is joined by Charlotte Reid, senior associate in RPC's Employment, Engagement and Equality team and Eleena Misra KC, of Old Square Chambers, to explore how employers can respond appropriately to a colleague who is affected by addiction, while at the same time also ensuring that the safety of others are protected, and business interests are preserved.

We discuss:

  • The importance of considering why a person may have an addiction or dependency;
  • Factors to take into account when responding to a situation where a person's addiction is impacting their work or others;
  • How addiction, in certain situations, could form the basis of a disability discrimination claim;
  • Making reasonable adjustments, where appropriate;
  • Employment tribunal cases involving alleged misconduct due to alcohol or drugs; and
  • Helping employees open up about their addiction or dependency in a "safe space".

To access further support on addiction, you may wish to visit: With You, (formerly known as Addaction), GamCare, or Talk to Frank.

*Please note these podcasts will not run on Internet Explorer

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All information is correct at the time of recording.  

The Work Couch is not a substitute for legal advice.

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