‘Your colleague in the next cubicle seems out of sorts: Her eyes are bloodshot; when she walks to the bathroom, her gait is unsteady; her phone conversations are marred by slurred speech.

Is she ill? On medication? Or could she be drunk?

In recent days, the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) HR Knowledge Center received an unusual number of inquiries about how to handle workers inebriated on the job.

“The fact that employees are presenting at work under the influence of alcohol is an indication that their drinking is significantly impacting their judgment—a sign that they are in desperate need of help,” said Tammy Hoyman, CEO of Des Moines, Iowa-based Employee & Family Resources Inc., which provides employee prevention, intervention and treatment services.

Time of Year May Bring on Drinking

The spate of SHRM inquiries about on-the-job drinking could reflect the time of year, workplace attorneys and substance abuse experts said.

“I suspect winter depression—or boredom—may be playing into it,” said Robin Shea, a partner with Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete in Winston-Salem, N.C. “It’s also possible that not everyone was able to immediately end the bad habits they picked up during the holiday season.”  ‘

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