I understand from one of my readers that she has, what she describes as a dedicated employee who is seeing a psychiatrist for depression, she also says this employee has an alcohol problem. Not suprising, she also says he has unpredictable patterns of absenteeism. The company has an EAP and their is a reasonable suspicion training program for alcohol and drug education of supervisors, but the question is, why use it or make a referral if he is obviously is seeing psychiatrist?
I know many of you will not believe this, but for some supervisors I have met, this makes perfect sense -- not to make a referral to the EAP. They have not referred such employees, despite their DOT supervisor training for reasonable suspicion because they believed, even with alcohol on the breath that the employee was in good hands with Dr. Freddy Freud.
Straight up, please refer these employees to your EAP. Persistent job problems are the proper basis for a supervisory referral not the workplace alcohol problem!
In this case it is absenteeism and refer for reasonable suspicion, too in accordance with your organizations drug free workplace policy. Often, employees seek help for personal problems they have themselves improperly diagnosed, like depression. Did you know that alcohol is a depressant? So, wallah!
Do you know that many depressed employees hope to heaven that a psychiatrist will call their alcoholism "a symptom" of depression? And guess why this is such a wonderful thing to the alcoholic? It holds out the possibility that he or she can one day drink normally again.
Believe me, there are many psychiatrists who want the patient to believe exactly this. And can you can guess why? Precisely. Can you say "ongoing" paying patient? So employees will seek help from the wrong source, or one which inadequately treats their problem.
A psychiatrist, without recommending alcoholism treatment, will be unable to successfully treat the illness because much more is needed than what the physician can offer. It is likely that this employee believes you are a sympathetic supervisor willing to wait. Wow, I can smell the risk from here. This is why the employees is willing an trusting, and desireous of sharing the nature of his problems with you without correcting the absenteeism. If you have not tried the EAP yet, and the threat of termination, as a motivator, you are overdue and over-ripe like a banana for a supervisory referral.
I hope you consider more reasonable suspicion training and more effecive dot supervisor training in the near future.