As Dry January has come to an end, we thought it appropriate to remind employers of their obligations regarding drug & alcohol misuse in the workplace.

Dry January has been a hot topic since the start of 2017, and with health specialists raving about the benefits of staying dry for January it’s a wonder why we drink alcohol at all!  With 79% of participants saving money, 62% having better sleep and more energy, and 49% losing weight it seems the perfect way to kick start your new year.  Registering to take part in this epic task has raises huge funds annually which are helping to tackle the harm caused by alcohol to individuals, families and society – an investment that is greatly appreciated by all affected.

Whilst Dry January receives huge investment from donations, the obligations of employers in the workplace to deal with drug & alcohol misuse is an area which often gets little investment from businesses and is commonly overlooked when developing policies and practices.  This can lead to negligence on the employers’ part.  Employers have legal obligations under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, The Transport and Works Act 1992 and The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

Under the Transport and Works Act drivers of road vehicles must not be under the influence of drugs and alcohol while driving, attempting to drive or when they are in charge of a vehicle.

It is a criminal offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act for any person knowingly to permit the production, supply or use of controlled substances on their premises except in certain specified circumstances.

Within the workplace some organisation now treat drug and alcohol dependence as an illness and frame policies aimed at rehabilitation.  This approach can encourage employees to seek treatment.  However, drugs differ from alcohol as use is generally not socially acceptable and is often illegal.  Some drugs can more rapidly affect physical and mental health than alcohol, so the earlier the problem can be dealt with, the greater chance there is of rehabilitation.

When considering the development of your Drug & Alcohol Policy, it should be designed to be used to ensure problems are dealt with effectively, and consistently and early on in the process.  They should protect workers and encourage sufferers to seek help.  An education programme for managers is particularly important: it could include details of signs to look for, how to deal with workers who seek help, and where expert advice and help may be obtained.  Being able to direct your workers to help is an important step.  This may help them to recognise the dangers of alcohol, drug and other substance misuse and encourage them to seek help.  It may also persuade your management and staff that covering up for someone with a drugs problem is not in that person’s long-term interests.  Taking part in regular fundraising activies like Dry January can be a great tool for raising additional awareness.

Ultimately, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs can seriously impair an individual’s judgement and reactions leading to an increased risk of accidents and injuries occurring.  Ensuring the safety of ALL employees is a fundamental requirement within the law and should also be a key focus of any Alcohol & Drug Policy.

If you are a business and seeking guidance in the development and implementation of a Drug & Alcohol Policy then C4HR have experienced & professional HR experts that can assist you.  We can tailor make policies to your business to ensure you comply to legal requirements and assist in rolling out any necessary awareness training for your staff.  In the meantime, we hope your business has benefitted from the increased energies of your employees during Dry January, and for those of you considering extending your alcohol free time click HERE for some extra advice.

For more information on the above HR advice please click HERE to contact us directly, or visit our website for more information on the additional services that C4HR can offer.

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