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Drug Policy Call

by msecadm4921

Drug and booze abuse by staff are a menace – yet most organisations lack a policy about dealing with it, according to the Chartered Management Institute.

Yet what the CMI calls a hidden menace does not only affect individuals, but can impact on overall organisational performance by higher risk of accidents, poor judgement or prolonged absenteeism. CMI research shows that almost half of managers would have difficulty in identifying possible signs of drug misuse in their colleagues and more than one in ten would find it hard to recognise signs of alcohol misuse. The institute is publishing a new set of guidelines to raise awareness of the dangers of substance misuse in the workplace and to encourage employers to develop a policy. These are available at www.managers.org.uk/drugs. A leaflet has been sponsored by Grosvenor International Services (www.grosvenor-international-services.com) who provide drug prevention, detection, and drug awareness services, and by Altrix Healthcare (www.altrixhc.com) who develop drug tests and equipment. The CMI survey shows that 75 per cent of drinkers regarded as having a problem are in employment, as are 25 per cent of those actively seeking help for a drug problem. Under health and safety legislation, employers have a duty to provide a healthy and safe working environment for their workers and to give clear guidance to employees as to what is acceptable behaviour, the CMI points out. Failure to deal with an employee who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and who may constitute a risk to other employees, could leave an organisation open to prosecution, the institute adds. Where there is no stated policy that sets clear guidelines for employees, an organisation could also find itself in breach of employment or human rights law if an employee is dismissed for misusing drugs or alcohol.

What they say

Mary Chapman, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute says: ?Drug and alcohol misuse can not only destroy the individual concerned, but can also have an extremely detrimental effect on the wider workforce, clients and customers and the organisation?s performance. Organisations must be aware of the potential problem and be confident that they have the background knowledge and policies in place to deal with individual cases.?

Don?t dictate

The guidelines do not dictate how a drugs and alcohol policy should read. Instead, they suggest that the policy be adapted to suit an organisation. For example, businesses where staff work in safety critical situations or where staff are responsible for the safety of others, such as in the transport sector, will need to set particularly stringent standards in order to ensure that a safe environment is maintained. However, employers should not assume that these are the only circumstances where drug and alcohol misuse can be costly to an organisation. For example, there are huge business risks if those affected by drugs or alcohol are making financial decisions on which other people?s future will depend. The adoption of a sound drugs and alcohol policy is evidence of good practice on the part of the organisation, not only in terms of the welfare of the workforce, but also in terms of increased efficiency, reduction of overheads and the creation of a safer, more pleasant working environment, the CMI says. Also available for download is a step by step guide to implementing a drugs and alcohol policy. Two examples of working policies come from Boots and Luminar Leisure. The Boots policy is given as an example. The retailer says that staff who are thought to have an alcohol or drug dependency should be
encouraged by their manager to seek treatment. If a person refuses treatment, fails to complete a course of treatment, or relapses after treatment, and there is consequential poor work performance, attendance or behaviour, company disciplinary procedure will be followed.

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