Many people are recovering in a drug rehab facility as a result of their drug addiction coming to light while they are at work. Following this discovery, it could be that their employer has a policy supporting their employees for such health issues, which thankfully is the enlightened stance many of today’s employers take. Unfortunately, others will immediately dismiss an employee who is found to have or admits to having a drug addiction.
We will assume that you are in the former group if you are an employer. Even so, whilst we would never suggest that you condone the use of illegal drugs, we trust that you agree drug addiction is a health issue that should be dealt with using treatment and support rather than punishment and sanctions.
One of the ways this can be achieved is by having a clear drug policy for your business. This is a crucial element of your business’s health and safety responsibilities, which apply to you, the employer, and your employees. The best policies of this type are created following consultation with employees and their representatives. This way, the drug policy is more thorough and seen as an agreement within the workplace rather than a diktat from above.
An effective workplace drug policy will include the following five elements:
Drug Policy Objectives
Your workplace drug policy objectives must be clear and understood by all they apply to. This means avoiding jargon or legalise and instead using plain English. Examples of possible objectives are:
- Maintaining a safe workplace and healthy working environment.
- Reducing or avoiding the associated costs linked to drug use for individuals and businesses.
- Enabling other workplace health and safety initiatives to include actions on drug issues.
- Providing all employees with access to information and advice on drug use.
- They are promoting drug support resources such as drug rehab and encouraging employees to seek help from them if they have a drug use issue.
Code Of Behaviour
In this section, you state what the company considers acceptable and unacceptable concerning drug use. This will differ given that some businesses and employment types require a zero-tolerance stance due to the law. Examples include using heavy machinery or care positions, such as a doctor.
You also need to clearly outline what is considered acceptable performance standards by employees in this section. This provides all employees with an unambiguous indicator of the benchmark for their performance levels.
Roles And Responsibilities
This does not relate to what position the workforce is employed for but to the roles and responsibilities of those managing the drug policy. You should state whose role it is to:
- Monitor employee performance
- Report concerns and applicable incidents
- Investigate reports and document their findings
- Approach an employee who is believed to be under the influence of drugs
- Implement a disciplinary procedure and sanction if applicable
- Refer an employee to drug counselling or drug rehab
- Maintain records
- Evaluate and amend the drug policy
Your drug policy should specify the following details concerning drug testing:
- Test types
- Test procedures
- Criteria and limits for positive results
- Who can conduct the tests
- Storage, handling, and destruction of tests – where and how
- Procedures following a positive test
- Repercussions of refusing to take a test
- Employee’s legal rights
- Complaints and grievance procedures
Outcomes Including Sanctions For Drug Policy Breaches
This will depend on the type of business you have and your attitude to drug use or addiction. Outcomes must always be consummate with each individual’s circumstances rather than a blanket ‘one size fits all’ approach. In businesses with a zero-tolerance policy or requirement, dismissal is likely to be stated in this section. Other possibilities include:
- Formal warning
- Referral to drug support or drug rehab facility