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Substance Abuse, Policy and Procedures on


To state the University policy on substance abuse and to describe procedures for handling substance abuse problems among faculty and staff.

Applies to: 

All faculty and staff of the University of Kansas

Juniper Gardens
Table of Contents: 
Policy Statement: 


The University recognizes that problems related to the abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs may be resolved through cooperation between the employer and the affected employee. The policy and procedures set forth here for handling substance abuse problems among faculty and staff is intended to enhance cooperation and to protect the individual, the University, and the University's substantial interest in the welfare of the University community.

The University strives to preserve the dignity of individual faculty and staff members and, through management, to address substance abuse that affects its employees’ performance or conduct. Cultural, genetic, and physiological factors are currently believed to play a contributing role in the development of substance abuse. Because faculty and staff members are considered to be valued members of the university community, every effort is made to return the faculty or staff member to normal and productive employment.

All employees should work to engender a University-wide enlightened attitude toward a realistic recognition of the nature of substance abuse, and an attitude that will encourage employees of their unit to take advantage of available treatments whenever needed. The Department of Human Resources can assist chairpersons and supervisors in identifying appropriate options for employees to seek professional assistance.

Policy Statement

The University has the right to expect that all employees will perform their jobs effectively. The University has a responsibility to the citizens of Kansas, its employees and its students to require that job performance and job conduct standards be met. The University may properly intervene when the use of alcohol or drugs affects job performance and conduct.

Utilizing this substance abuse policy and procedures does not result in exemption from standard administrative practices or policies applicable to job performance and conduct requirements.

Recognizing that professional assistance often can return the affected individual to full productivity, the University holds that it is the employee's right and responsibility to seek professional assistance for a substance abuse problem. This policy supports individuals in seeking professional help so that they may return to full productivity.


Supervisory Role

Responsibility for utilizing this substance abuse policy rests with all department chairpersons and supervisory personnel. Job security or promotional opportunities will not be jeopardized when an employee with a substance abuse problem seeks and engages in treatment.

Information revealed by the employee while receiving professional services will remain confidential and separate from University employee records. All record-keeping and access procedures will comply with federal law governing the confidentiality of health and medical information.

Intervention Process

Stage I

When an employee's job performance or conduct is deteriorating and there is reason to suspect that this may be due to the use of alcohol or drugs, the chairperson advises the dean, or the supervisor advises his or her director or manager of a potential problem. The Department of Human Resources should be consulted at this time to determine the appropriate intervention process. Before attempting intervention, the chairperson or supervisor should discuss with his or her next-level supervisor and Human Resources the necessary steps and procedures to address a situation where substance abuse may be affecting job performance or job conduct.

The chairperson or supervisor first will meet informally with the employee to discuss concerns about performance or conduct and to solicit the employee's explanation or input about the nature of the reason for diminished job performance. During this initial meeting, the chairperson/supervisor will discuss expectations of performance and/or conduct with the employee. The employee should be encouraged to address the performance and/or conduct issues and, if the employee admits a substance abuse problem, to seek help for the problem. If the chairperson/supervisor has information that indicates that substance abuse is involved or the employee admits that it is, the chairperson or supervisor should provide a copy of the University Substance Abuse Policy to the employee.

If the employee acknowledges a substance abuse problem and agrees to address the situation, Human Resources can provide a list of professional agencies, also on the Community Support Resources page of the Human Resources website. The employee may choose among those listed or may seek other appropriate assistance. Employees are encouraged to utilize the State of Kansas Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which provides for a variety of services.

The employee is responsible for complying with a referral for diagnosis and for cooperating in any prescribed treatment. The employee should be assured that the referral agency will treat all discussions with strict confidentiality. As a means of giving evidence that a positive step has been taken to deal with the problem, most treating agencies, with the consent of their client, will report to a supervisor that the client has followed up on a referral. A sample employee medical release form is available from Human Resources.

At this first meeting of intervention between the chairperson or supervisor and the employee, a date will be set by which improvement in job performance will be assessed. If job performance is deemed to be satisfactory as a result of improvement, the employee will be informed in writing. If job performance has been found to be unsatisfactory, then the process proceeds to Stage II.

Stage II

At this stage in the process, various situations may exist, including: 1) The employee refuses to acknowledge that the employee has a substance abuse problem, but there is reason to believe that substance abuse is involved; 2) The employee recognizes the substance abuse problem but the employee refuses to engage in necessary treatment; or 3) The employee recognizes the substance abuse problem but the employee has not responded to treatment. In any of these circumstances, the University reserves the right, at its expense, to obtain an independent medical and/or psychological evaluation if the employee’s performance and/or conduct continue to be deficient.

If the employee does not admit to the problem, or refuses to engage in necessary treatment, the chairperson or supervisor will contact the Human Resources for further assistance. If the chairperson or supervisor and Human Resources subsequently determine that a substance abuse problem exists and it is interfering with job performance, the following will take place.

A management team (the Committee) will be established by Human Resources to assist the chairperson or supervisor in the process. Human Resources will request input for names of members for the Committee from the employee and the chairperson or supervisor. Human Resources will determine the final composition of the Committee. A staff member from Human Resources will be a member of the Committee. Committee membership will not exceed five. If the employee refuses to provide any names for constituting the Committee,Human Resources will determine members of the Committee without the employee’s input. The Committee will be composed of individuals within the university community, including at least one individual who has the same employment status as the employee for whom the Committee is being formed, and may include a medical professional.

The Committee will develop a written plan for employee monitoring. The plan will include the time-line and procedures for review of the employee's performance or conduct, monitoring of treatment for substance abuse, and compliance with objectives to improve job performance or conduct. A sample plan is available from Human Resources. The plan may include an alcohol or drug abuse prevention agreement. Sample agreements are available from Human Resources.

If the employee requests any adjustments in the workplace based upon reasonable accommodations pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), those requests will be considered in consultation with Human Resources. See ADA Education & Policies.

Functions of the Committee

  1. monitor job performance and meet with employee and chairperson/supervisor to discuss;
  2. monitor employee’s compliance with terms of the written plan;
  3. report compliance or non-compliance with the plan to the chairperson or supervisor.

Between the time of the meeting and the date set for assessing improvement in job performance, the Committee will continue to monitor job performance.

If, by the date set at the first meeting between the Committee and the employee, the employee's job performance has improved to an acceptable level as a result of successful treatment, the Committee will inform the chairperson/supervisor. No further action by the Committee will be required.

Stage III

When the employee does not respond to treatment, or substance abuse continues to affect job performance, the chairperson in consultation with the Dean, or the supervisor in consultation with his or her next-level supervisor, with assistance from Human Resources, may institute disciplinary action in accordance with applicable university policies. At this stage, the chairperson or supervisor of the department or unit and the Director of Human Resources or designee should consult with the University General Counsel for guidance.

The following options are available and are to be pursued where applicable:

    1. Being placed on sick leave. Depending on the nature of the condition, the employee may be eligible for Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) or for the University's shared leave program. This could allow the employee to enter an inpatient treatment center or similar treatment program. Under this option, a written plan for improvement should be developed between the employee and the University, through the chairperson/supervisor and dean/director/vice chancellor, or vice provost, with approval by Human Resources and the University General Counsel. The plan will spell out specifically the terms of the employee's return to his or her duties at the end of treatment (e.g., how the University is to be informed of the progress made in treatment and the appropriateness of a return to duty, whether there will be a specified period when performance is closely monitored, how job performance is to be assessed). For information about FMLA, see the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policy; for information about shared leave, see the Shared Leave policy.
    2. Being placed on leave without pay, in accordance with University and Board of Regents policy regulations. At the end of this period the employee will meet with the chairperson or supervisor and Human Resources to review the case. If there is clear evidence that the individual is able to return to work, the individual shall be reinstated and the individual's job performance will be carefully monitored for a specific period by a mechanism developed by The Committee.
    3. Taking early retirement. This option is for those otherwise eligible.
    4. Resigning.
    5. Disability. In some cases an employee may be eligible to apply for the State's disability program if warranted by related debilitating medical conditions.
    6. Dismissal.

If a faculty, unclassified academic staff, unclassified professional staff, or University support staff member has made insufficient improvement in job performance or job conduct, the University may seek dismissal in accordance with the University policies applicable to the individual’s employment category.

Human Resources will assist departments in coordinating dismissal processes for unclassified professional staff and University support staff. The Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor recommends dismissal to the Chancellor for faculty and unclassified academic staff.


Refer to options under Stage III above.


Human Resource Management
University of Kansas
Carruth O'Leary Hall
1246 West Campus Road
Lawrence, KS 66045

Approved by: 
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Approved on: 
Thursday, April 24, 2003
Effective on: 
Monday, August 18, 2003
Review Cycle: 
Annual (As Needed)
Substance abuse, alcohol abuse, illicit drugs
Change History: 

02/22/2020: Fixed broken links.
08/22/2019: Updated contact section.
07/11/2016: Updated to remove gendered pronouns.
12/16/2014: Fixed link to Community Support Services (broken due to Human Resource Management website update).
11/03/2014: Fixed broken links; policy formatting cleanup (e.g., bolding, spacing).
06/09/2010: Approved by the Interim Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor.
05/2010: Updated by Human Resources and the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor in consultation with the presidents of the Faculty Senate, Unclassified Professional Staff Senate, and USS Senate to reflect current nomenclature.
08/18/2003: Policy effective.
08/06/2003: Edited and approved by the Provost.
04/24/2003: Approved By University Council.

Operational Categories: 
Health & Safety
Personnel: Faculty/Academic Staff Categories: 
Workplace Rules & Guidelines
Personnel: Staff Categories: 
Workplace Rules & Guidelines
Personnel: Student Employees Categories: 
Workplace Rules & Guidelines

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