With drug taking revelations a hot topic in today's news, it seems like a perfect time to look at how drug taking is perceived and dealt with in the workplace. Are we dealing with a crime or a health issue?
Could drug taking be distinguished in a similar way to sickness absence? Some people take the day after bank holiday Monday off or the odd Monday off not because they are ill but because they want the day off (conduct issue). Whereas most are genuinely ill and take time off as a result (this could in time become a capability issue). Could drugs be viewed similarly? Drug taking on social occasions v drug taking on a frequent basis due to dependency?
It is an important point of perspective which we all need to take stock of. Is drug use a health issue? It may be but is it always? Do you penalise or offer a helping hand? What is your policy on drugs in the workplace?
A valid point was made today - do people actually understand how drugs are manufactured, how they impact upon society, the laws they are breaking and the penalties they may face both criminally and in the workplace?
Training is always a good starting point but then perhaps rehabilitation should be considered for those showing a dependency.
In the UK you can test for drugs in employment in certain circumstances, for example, if working under the influence of drugs could pose a risk to health and safety. Also employers need to be mindful of GDPR and data protection principles regarding sensitive data. Any testing should be justified, necessary and proportionate and completed with employee consent. If the employee fails to give this then the employer can consider disciplinary action.
"Anyone that takes Class A drugs, they need to think about that supply chain that comes from Colombia to, let's say, Chelsea, and the number of lives that are destroyed along the way. There are people that, they have organic food, they boast about buying fair trade, they talk about climate change and, at the same time come Friday or Saturday night, they're all doing Class A drugs." Sajid Javid