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Drugs & Alcohol in the Workplace Guide for Managers

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Organisations – large or small, private or public sector – can expect to have to tackle
problems relating to drug and alcohol misuse amongst employees at some time.
The cost to industry has been estimated at £800 million per year and problems caused
by drug and alcohol misuse not only affect the health, safety and welfare of staff but
also business continuity and financial stability.
All managers have a duty of care to their employees. 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.
The object should be to drive drugs and alcohol, not the people,
out of the organisation.
Prevention is as important as dealing with the consequences
of misuse.
Drug and alcohol misuse should be seen as a health problem and the employee should
be supported as far as possible, with disciplinary action being used only as a last resort.
There is evidence that the most effective way of achieving this is to introduce
and maintain a comprehensive, unequivocal and effective drugs and alcohol
policy that is established at the top and known throughout the organisation.
Managers should therefore ask themselves the following questions:
• Does my organisation have a drugs and alcohol policy?
• If not, why not?
• If yes, how effective is it?
• What are the legal implications?
• How accessible is it to employees?
According to research conducted in 2002 by the Chartered Management Institute,
one in five managers believe that alcohol misuse has increased in their organisation
over the past few years while 16 per cent feel that drugs misuse has increased.
However, while the signs of alcohol misuse are familiar to most (85 per cent),
a large proportion of managers (46 per cent) are not confident they would
recognise the signs of drug misuse.
This leaflet seeks to raise awareness of the issues to be tackled, and suggests
how a policy may be implemented and a support network provided.

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Drugs & Alcohol in the Workplace Guide for Managers

  1. 1. Drugs and Alcohol in the Workplace – Guidance for Managers December 2002 G ROSVENOR UK Driving Drugs Out Through Training & Action
  2. 2. Introduction Organisations – large or small, private or public sector – can expect to have to tackle problems relating to drug and alcohol misuse amongst employees at some time. The cost to industry has been estimated at £800 million per year and problems caused by drug and alcohol misuse not only affect the health, safety and welfare of staff but also business continuity and financial stability. All managers have a duty of care to their employees. 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. The object should be to drive drugs and alcohol, not the people, out of the organisation. Prevention is as important as dealing with the consequences of misuse. Drug and alcohol misuse should be seen as a health problem and the employee should be supported as far as possible, with disciplinary action being used only as a last resort. There is evidence that the most effective way of achieving this is to introduce and maintain a comprehensive, unequivocal and effective drugs and alcohol policy that is established at the top and known throughout the organisation. Managers should therefore ask themselves the following questions: • Does my organisation have a drugs and alcohol policy? • If not, why not? • If yes, how effective is it? • What are the legal implications? • How accessible is it to employees? According to research conducted in 2002 by the Chartered Management Institute, one in five managers believe that alcohol misuse has increased in their organisation over the past few years while 16 per cent feel that drugs misuse has increased. However, while the signs of alcohol misuse are familiar to most (85 per cent), a large proportion of managers (46 per cent) are not confident they would recognise the signs of drug misuse. This leaflet seeks to raise awareness of the issues to be tackled, and suggests how a policy may be implemented and a support network provided.
  3. 3. Business Impact Problems that can arise where employees are misusing substances can include: • Lower productivity • Accidents and other breaches • Increased staff turnover of health and safety requirements • Lower profit margins • Employee theft • Increased absenteeism • Lower staff morale • Loss of clients • Workplace bullying • Damage to the organisation’s reputation • Increased stress levels Legal and Human Rights Issues Over half of managers (55 per cent) agree that random drug and alcohol testing in the workplace is an effective deterrent. Inevitably legal and human rights issues come into play. An organisation could find itself in breach of employment and/or human rights law if an employee is dismissed for misusing drugs or alcohol when there is no stated policy that this may be the outcome. It is therefore essential that all employees are made aware at the outset of the existence of such policies, how they operate and their full implications. Legally, employers can only seek evidence of impairment whilst in the workplace and for this to be effective, the employee would need to be tested immediately if impairment was suspected, and subsequently suspended on full pay, if appropriate, until the test results were known. Unless justified on safety grounds, testing procedures to identify drug or alcohol misuse should only be introduced with the consent of employees. For testing in the workplace (random or otherwise) to be accepted, it is imperative that it is set out within the organisation’s policy. This must detail how testing will be carried out and under what circumstances, and what will happen if a test proves positive. Any policy should detail the employer’s right of search as well as rights concerning the retention of confidential information. Any testing and the interpretation of test results must be carried out under the direction of medically qualified personnel, experienced in the field, to ensure the highest quality procedures are used. Information which is revealed as a result of the tests which has no bearing on the ability of the employee to work safely, should not be recorded. All testing should aim to be as non-invasive as possible and only be sufficient to establish whether or not the person is or is not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The tests used must be capable of showing real evidence of impairment sufficient to put at risk the safety of others. M A N A G E M E N T I N S I G H T
  4. 4. Auditing Procedures Only 13 per cent of those managers surveyed whose organisations have drug and alcohol policies, can confidently state that there is also an audit procedure in place. A drugs policy will only be effective if audited on a regular basis. The staff entrusted with implementing the policy must be properly trained and their knowledge and ability to apply the procedures kept up-to-date. Key performance indicators must be established and organisations be prepared to learn from the regular audits, making changes and improvements where necessary. Procedures of this nature can occupy a significant amount of time and line managers who are given the responsibility of overseeing them should be prepared to build that time into their schedules. This in turn will require the support and involvement of senior management. Training is of vital importance. It is essential that all employees fully understand the policy of their organisation and that they sign off on that training to ensure that no gaps occur. Implementing a Drugs and Alcohol Policy A drugs and alcohol policy must be: Deliverable Recognisable Understandable Guiding Straightforward It is also important that the policy is accessible, actionable and transparent so that all employees are clear about it, and its implications. Drafting the Policy Less than half of all managers surveyed have a drugs, alcohol or combined policy in place in their organisation. • A senior manager must be mandated to oversee the development of the policy • All staff/union and safety representatives (where appropriate) must be involved throughout the procedure • Feedback from staff must be sought at appropriate stages • The final draft of the policy must be approved and endorsed by the Chief Executive or equivalent M A N A G E M E N T C R E D E N T I A L S
  5. 5. Implementation and Communication Of those managers surveyed whose organisations did have a policy in place, 22 per cent admitted not knowing what the policy involved. • Senior management must be involved in the implementation, communication and maintenance of the policy • A strict timetable must be set for implementation • Details of the policy and the date it becomes effective must be communicated to all employees Channels of communication include: • Interviewing process • Email bulletins • Induction programme • Posters • Staff handbook • Leaflets • Intranet • Information and training seminars Training Less than a third of the organisations with a drugs or alcohol policy in place provide education on the consequences of drug or alcohol misuse. • Awareness training for all managers must be provided to cover: • Contents of the policy • Legal implications • Signs and symptoms of misuse • Methods of testing • Dealing with the consequences of misuse • Managers themselves could be tested at the time of training in order to experience the testing and encourage buy-in throughout the workplace • New employees must be informed of the policy on being offered employment and training given as part of the induction programme Auditing Only 13 per cent of organisations with a policy include an audit procedure. It is important to ensure that there is a robust method in place to measure compliance with the policy. • A senior manager must take responsibility for overseeing the auditing process • A regular review should be made of all documented arrangements, training records etc. • It should be carried out by a trained auditor M A N A G E M E N T S U P P O R T
  6. 6. Useful Organisations and Support Networks • The Health and Safety Executive www.hse.gov.uk • Alcohol Concern www.alcoholconcern.org.uk • European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction www.emcdda.org • European Legal Database on Drugs www.eldd.emcdda.org • Release – charity providing support and information www.release.org.uk • Priority Healthcare Wearside, NHS Trust www.phw.co.uk/hpromo/drugpol • Know the Score www.knowthescore.info • Medscreen Ltd www.medscreen.com • USA www.drugfreeworkplace.org • Canada www.pace.bc.ca • Regional Drug Action Teams www.doh.gov.uk/drugs/drugactionteams • Grosvenor International Services www.grosvenor-international-services.com • Altrix Healthcare plc www.altrixhc.com Further information, case studies and results of research findings can be found on the Institute’s website www.managers.org.uk This document is intended for guidance only. It cannot claim to be comprehensive and appropriate to each individual manager or circumstance. Expert opinion should always be obtained in cases of doubt. Reach 10652 12/03 Chartered Management Institute (Incorporated by Royal Charter) Registered Charity No 1091035 Registered Address: 2 Savoy Court, Strand, London, WC2R 0EZ

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