So far as is reasonably possible, employers are legally obliged to ensure the safety and welfare at work of all employees. Likewise, employees have a responsibility to themselves and to their colleagues. The use of alcohol and/or unauthorised drugs may disturb the safe and efficient running of a business. It can hinder the health and safety of employees within the organisation as well as the customers and other stakeholders.
There can be multiple negative effects of alcohol and drug use. Below illustrates just some of the adverse outcomes that can come as a result of drug and/or alcohol use:
The use of drugs or alcohol by an employee can lead to performance/productivity issues. It can make concentration very difficult for the person in question. Work related tasks can take more time and the number of mistakes can often increase, potentially costing the Company, individual concerned and other employees dearly.
Another common consequence of alcohol or drug use is the loss of faculties. This may lead to an inability to properly assess danger which can, in turn, bring about higher accident levels when driving to or from work, or being more prone to having an accident or causing an accident when at work.
Absence from work is another likely outcome when using alcohol or drugs in an excessive or irresponsible manner. Other related lapses such as lateness and disproportionate levels of sickness, etc. are also common.
Companies should operate a ‘zero tolerance’ policy when it comes to drugs and alcohol and
employees should not be permitted to work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol under any circumstances. Employees must adhere to all medically prescribed drug instructions and if the medication is likely to cause any side effects that could impair the employee’s levels of concentration or ability to carry out his or her work then he or she should communicate this to Management.
If an employee’s performance or attendance at work is affected as a result of alcohol or drugs, or the employer believes the employee has been involved in any drug related action/offence, disciplinary action may be required. Dismissal may be warranted in severe circumstances.
It should be clearly communicated to employees that anyone involved in the unlawful possession, use, sale or manufacture of controlled substances or illicit drugs etc. on Company premises, in Company vehicles/work sites or during working time will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. They should also be referred for prosecution.
Companies should also include a drug and alcohol testing policy in their employee handbook to improve their rights in these situations.
Smoking regulations for employees:
In line with statutory provisions companies are obliged to operate a strict smoke-free
workplace policy. Employers should make their employees fully aware that any member of staff who breaches this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. It is imperative that employers enforce the law.
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