Addressing Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace
Within any business, companies seek to outline clear methods in which employees should act and behave whilst carrying out their roles. These rules are outlined in company workplace policies. Every business – no matter which industry it operates in – should have well-documented and comprehensive workplace policies and procedures in place.
According to the Employment Law Handbook, a workplace policy is a set of rules and principles that aims to provide guidance to managers and workers in how to behave in the workplace. They can be in place for numerous different issues – bullying, harassment, internet use, health and safety are just a few that can be implemented.
Health and Safety
As mentioned above, health and safety is an important aspect of any workplace policy. The health and well-being of the working community is of utmost importance for sustainable development. Specifically, a drug and alcohol policy is a key part of the overall health and safety policy within a company. Alcohol and drugs through their effects on health, safety, work performance and absenteeism can jeopardise productivity, deny businesses the leading edge and curtail competitiveness. Effectively implemented drug and alcohol policies will help employers in the legal duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of employees.
The need for a Drug and Alcohol Policy
Drugs and alcohol misuse can have dangerous consequences within the workplace. All organisations can benefit from an agreed policy that applies to all staff. There are wide range of statistics available to highlight the worrying impact that drugs and alcohol can have on individuals. In 2016, it was estimated that £7 billion was lost in productivity through unemployment and sickness. Furthermore, 10.8 million adults in England are drinking at levels that pose some risk to their health. A survey carried out by UK based Health and Safety Consultants Protecting.co.uk showed that; from 2,600 workers in office, factory, retail and the public sector, 85% admit to being drunk at work in the last year; not including the Christmas party. 28% of those surveyed admitted using drugs at work, including NPS (formerly legal highs) cannabis and other illegal substances.
From a legal point of view, employers have a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of employees. Also, under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, to assess the risks to the health and safety of employees. If an employer knowingly allows an employee under the influence of drug misuse to continue working and his/her behaviour places the employee or others at risk, they may face prosecution.
Advantages of having Policies in place
Having well-developed policies and procedures can provide a range of benefits to an organisation. An effectively implemented drug and alcohol policy will ensure a clear understanding within the workplace of the rules relating to drugs and alcohol. It will also provide a greater awareness in workplaces of the effects of drugs and alcohol an consequently early recognition. Furthermore, it ensures that the necessary structures and procedures are in place should a problem arise. An up to date policy will also provide assurance that key staff have been trained to understand the issues involved and have the necessary skills to deal with any problems should they arise.
How can Randox Testing Services help?
At Randox Testing Services we offer a comprehensive consultancy service to help employers create, an effective substance misuse policy. By providing this service we offer practical advice, guidance and support in composing a substance misuse policy.
Our confidential policy review service provides assistance to employers with an existing substance misuse policy. With this service, we help to modify existing documents to ensure it is legally viable and can withstand challenge in court.
To read more on workplace policies and their importance within an organisation, click here.
What is a workplace substance misuse policy?
Many organisations implement a policy that outlines the expectations they have concerning the misuse of drugs and/or alcohol and how this can affect performance and safety in the workplace. This can often be referred to as a substance misuse policy.
Employers hold the responsibility to ensure employees are fully aware of the company’s rules, regulations, testing and disciplinary procedures. Fundamentally, this is to guarantee complete workplace safety. The policy itself holds a vital importance providing employees with the knowledge of the standards expected of them in the workplace.
To ensure transparency of information, it is imperative that the policy is written in a clear, comprehensive manner. This should allow them to understand without confusion or misinterpretation the implications the organisation has in place for users who misuse substances.
Why is this policy so important for businesses to implement?
Alcohol and / or drug use increases the chances of problems occurring in the workplace. For example, studies have found that employees with alcohol problems are 2.7 times more likely to have an accident whilst at work.
Some of the main issues that associated with substance misuse in the workplace are:
- Absenteeism – It’s estimated that there are 17 million lost days of work per year due to substance misuse.
- Low productivity levels – Employees may lose focus in different tasks and become de-motivated.
- Inappropriate behaviour – Some cases of substance abuse may lead to inappropriate actions or in extreme cases crime
Evidence suggests that many people who suffer from alcohol and drug abuse are in employment. Studies show that 25% of registered drug addicts are in full-time employment and that 3.3% of all adults in England and Wales aged 16 – 59 classified as frequent users.
Significant issues such as these provide growing concerns for employers to put in place a workplace substance misuse policy to guarantee the welfare of all stakeholders. Under the Health & Safety Act 1974, employers have a duty to ensure the safety of their employees is met to all principles. Introducing an effective workplace policy is a key part in maintaining these standards.
The importance of a workplace policy for drugs and alcohol can benefit employers by:
- Building relationships with employees by showing them there is support available.
- Policies can raise awareness of issues in the business and can encourage staff members to take action if they feel they have a problem.
- Its importance can reduce the number of sick employees, it can also increase staff turnover & productivity levels.
- Employers who implement a workplace policy can also see a rise in efficiency, improved staff relationship, communication and improved corporate image and in some cases customer relations.
What we at Randox Testing Services can do:
Randox Testing Services is a market leader in the drug and alcohol testing industry. Our expertise is relied upon by safety-critical companies all over the world. We provide complete drug and alcohol testing solutions to a range of blue chip companies across multiple industries including aviation, transport, construction, maritime, retail and occupational health to name a few.
Our expert consultancy service allows employers to create an effective drug and alcohol misuse policy. We offer comprehensive advice, guidance and support in composing an effective policy and explaining best procedures and testing methods to use. We also provide assistance to employers with an existing substance misuse policy, helping to modify existing documents to ensure they are legally viable and can withstand challenge in court.
To ensure clear communication of any policy changes, our experts can come to your workplace and present the policy to your staff. By having a third party explain the policy employers can ensure all the benefits are communicated effectively. This way staff do not feel like they are being victimised or persecuted, but know their employer is looking after their workplace wellbeing.
Combining our consultancy service with our drug and alcohol testing service and / or point of care products, employers can find a complete testing solution from Randox Testing Services.
About Randox Testing Services
At Randox Testing Services we offer complete drug and alcohol testing solutions to a wide range of industries across the globe. We work with companies to help create and implement effective workplace testing policies that suit their needs and budget.
To support our customers our additional services include training and education courses as well as policy reviews and consultancy. Our experts are at hand to discuss any testing requirements you may have. To get in touch email firstname.lastname@example.org today.
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