Updated: May 3, 2019
Employment is one of the best tools for recovery. It gives people purpose, meaning, and an ability to pay their bills. For someone recovering from addiction, finding a job isn't always easy.
Often that's because there's still some sense of shame and embarrassment tied to problematic drug use, more so than any other health issue or disease. Wangaratta’s Beyond Ice campaign is working hard to address this locally but there's still much to do.
I hear it time and again that when an employer gives someone a chance, that employee goes on to become one of their most loyal staff. That’s why I encourage business owners to see through the stigma, ensure they have appropriate employee supports and drug and alcohol policies in place and then provide people with an opportunity.
Employers need to be careful that they don't knowingly or unknowingly discriminate against people in recovery.
A business can't have a blanket policy to knock back anyone whose police check highlights a criminal history. Often, you'll see job ads that say, “Any offer of employment is subject to satisfactory policy clearance” or wording to similar effect. There could be an accusation of discrimination if that person's criminal history is irrelevant to the role. That’s why each applicant needs to be taken on a case by case basis.
An example is a prospective employee who had applied for a finance-related job and whose police check highlighted they'd been convicted of fraud that had occurred in the workplace. This meant that person was inappropriate for the finance role they'd applied for and their application could be set aside. If the role hadn't been related to finance, if it were a truck driving role for instance, then to knock them back based on that conviction could be found to be discriminatory.
When it comes to addressing problematic drug and alcohol use, aim to create a workplace environment where workers feel comfortable enough to come forward if they have a problem with drugs, alcohol or they're concerned about their mental health. You don’t want to find out someone’s impaired at work after there has been an incident.
As a business owner it is important to understand employment-related legislation and your obligations towards those who work for you. Along with staying within the law, keeping your employees safe and happy keeps team morale high, reduces employee turnover and helps attract new employees. Creating the right work environment to support those in recovery, is creating the right environment for all employees - which makes it a good business for everyone.
Thanks to support from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, any Wangaratta business owner concerned about problematic drug and alcohol use in their workplace can access a confidential consultation with Linda Griffiths-Brown at Total HRM at no cost. Call 1800 868 254 to register. A limited number of appointments is available.
This story appeared in the Wangaratta Chronicle - we thank them for supporting our initiative.