Headlines: December 20th, 2002

New research by the Chartered Management Institute reveals that although alcohol and drug misuse has an estimated 3.5 billion pounds annual cost to UK organizations, almost half of managers would have difficulty in identifying possible signs of drug misuse in their colleagues. More than one in ten would find it hard to recognize signs of alcohol misuse.The research showed that the hidden menace not only affects individuals, but can also impact on overall organizational performance through increased risk of accidents, poor judgment or prolonged absenteeism. US studies show that substance abusers are 33% less productive, three times as likely to be late, four times as likely to hurt themselves or others at work, and ten times as likely to miss work.

Although many organizations feel that this is an issue that does not concern them, figures show 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.

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 organization open to prosecution. Where there is no stated policy that sets clear guidelines for employees, an organization could also find itself in breach of employment or human rights law if an employee is dismissed for misusing drugs or alcohol.

The Institute has published a new set of guidelines to raise awareness of the dangers of substance misuse in the workplace and to encourage employers to develop clear policies. The guidelines are complemented by a step by step guide on how to construct and implement a policy, including working examples provided by organizations that have effective policies in place.

Link: http://www.managers.org.uk/drugs