Due to low unemployment, Czech employers reportedly more tolerant of workplace intoxication
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Due to low unemployment, Czech employers reportedly more tolerant of workplace intoxication

In the Czech Republic, if a company discovers that an employee is drunk or otherwise intoxicated while on the job, they have the right to fire them on the spot, without giving the prior written warning that is usually needed.

Of course, firing an employee in most cases results in the need to hire a replacement. And because of record low levels of unemployment within the Czech Republic at the moment, that may not be easy.

According to Aktuálně.cz, due to low unemployment levels and a difficult labor market, drug and alcohol intoxication on the job may not be the same grounds for immediate dismissal that they used to be.

“If we are talking about low-level positions, it is true that we used to have stronger requirements for drug and alcohol testing than we do today,” Tomáš Surka, a representative from the HR consulting firm Devire, told Aktuálně.cz.

“This is due to the significant shortage of candidates.”

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Others in the Czech employment marker shared a similar opinion.

“Because people have the option of so many offers on the market, they have less dependence on their employer and therefore less motivation,” said Jiří Halbrštát of ManpowerGroup.

“[The employer] must tolerate this, even though they can never publicly admit it.”

According to the Czech Labor Code, employees can be subject to random drug tests; refusal to participate in three tests would also be grounds for immediate dismissal. But because employers may not want drug use among their staff to result in turnover, they could help them avoid the tests.

“Some companies have to carry out random drug checks according to internal regulations, which is a problem because traces of marijuana will remain in the body for weeks,” Halbrštát said.

“So when there is a rumor that tests will take place on a particular day, bosses will call people they prefer not to show up to work if there is a risk.”

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Just what kind of substances are being used at the Czech workplace?

“[Employees are] mostly drinking rum, vodka, beer in PET bottles, and as far as harder substances are concerned, I know about pervitin and a lot of tramadol use […] and of course marijuana,” says Vašek, a 28-year-old who works for a large logistics company.

But drug and alcohol use is not just prevalent among low-level employees in the Czech Republic. According to statistics quoted by Aktuálně.cz, a third of managers are also abusing drugs and/or alcohol while on the job.

“Drugs and alcohol abuse is very serious topic, but unfortunately only covertly discussed. Managers between the ages of 35 to 45 most commonly experience alcohol addiction,” Markéta Švedová, a headhunter from Recruit CZ, told Aktuálně.cz.

“Companies know about this problem, but they name it differently if they address it at all, and they compensate for their blindness by exaggerated care for managers in the form of coaches, sick days, home office and gym passes.”

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Lucas Němec

Prague-based author with two decades experience living in and writing about the Czech Republic for local and international sites and publications. Nakládaný hermelín enthusiast and frequent Club-Mate drinker.

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