Employee's personal life problems

I just had a District Manager come into my office and ask what we could enforce on an employee during his time off. This employee is productive at work and there are no problems with his job performance. His personal life is a mess and the general manager has been very lenient with him regarding time off that was needed to deal with personal issues.

Now, this employee was recently arrested for drunk driving. He is making it to work and making the bank deposits for work without driving.

If he doesn't comply with the court order by going to AA the GM wants to term his employment. I told him we cannot do this legally. We have to focus on his job performance and attendance. We cannot tell him what to do outside of work. Besides the fact he will probably go to jail if he doesn't comply with a court order.

I don't believe we can force an employee to seek help. If he asks for help we do have an EAP program that we can refer him to. Other than that our hands are tied.

Please let me know your thoughts on this. This is a new one on me.


  • 11 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Clearly this EE's life is spiraling downhill but why add to his problems by taking away his job? If he is making it to work and fulfilling his job duties, I don't think the GM has grounds for termination.

    My guess is the GM has run out of patience (due to being lenient in the past for time off to deal with personal matters) and wants the EE gone.

    Let the courts deal with the EE's legal issues and keep encouraging the GM to focus on the employee's work performance.

    Hopefully the EE has had a "wake up" call and will begin to seek treatment.
  • You might remind the employee that incarceration is not an "excused" absence. That sometimes works.
  • Thanks guys. I think the GM really wants to help this employee out but you can't force someone to get help if they don't want to. Maybe I need to talk to the GM about healthy professional boundaries. :)

    You're right Frank. Being in jail is not an excused absence, nor is it an fmla qualifying event. Maybe he needs to hit rock bottom before he seeks help. Sad.
  • I remember working with an employee for 4 years who smelled of alcohol the entire time. I understood he had been there about 10 years and had always smelled that way. He always showed up for work and on time. Never any work issues. He drank on his own time and never let it effect his job. Never knew how he managed, but he did. Last I heard (some 4-5 years after I left) he was still doing the same thing.
  • If an employee's personal life is affecting their work life - hence, the additional time off requests - we have mandated that an employee seek assistance through our paid EAP. Again, something has to be affected at work.

    Hope he does get the help, because sounds like it is a matter of time before he is going to get sent to jail.
  • Nae, I'm surprised that person is still alive! The body can only take so much.

    This employee's work performance is fine and he is making it to work. It sounds like he might have to serve some jail time so we will have to deal with that if that comes down the pike. The DM has a meeting with him today. Hope it goes well.
  • Two words - Keith Richards.

    [quote=bethk;719470]Nae, I'm surprised that person is still alive! The body can only take so much.
  • I knew somebody who'd been an alcoholic for many years. He always managed to hold a job and provide for his family. He lived to a fairly ripe old age and actually didn't begin to decline physically until he was forced to stop drinking, then he went downhill pretty quickly. I always suspected that there was more alcohol in his bloodstream than blood, and that was what kept him upright and functioning all those years.
  • [QUOTE=ACU Frank;719478]Two words - Keith Richards.[/QUOTE]

    See also, Iggy Pop.
  • Years ago, as a supervisor, I had a similar issue. The ee was arrested for DUI, etc. Because our policy permitted it, he was allowed a 30 day unpaid leave to deal with being in jail, but his attendance policy violations eventually resulted termination. Throughout the whole process which, overall, took close to a year, we dealt with his performance and attendance and stayed away from any other issues.

    The termination was rock bottom for him and I don't think I've ever been more miserable when having to terminate an employee than I was with him. All terminations are difficult at best but that one was heart wrenching. I had supervised him for about five years and knew what had happened in his personal life that drove him down the path he was on. One of the best days I ever had as a supervisor, was the day, almost two years after his termination, when he stopped by to see me. He was sober and happy and thanked me for not enabling him to continue down that path.

    I wish I could have taken credit, but all I did was follow company policy which is why I recommend that you review your policies, update them as needed, and stick to them.

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