Over a third of employees know or suspect their colleagues have a drug problem


Over a third (35%) of employees know or suspect that their colleagues have a drug problem or take illegal substances either during or outside work a new survey has found, while over 60 per cent complained that mood swings, missed deadlines and calling-in sick are just some of the ways it’s affecting team performance.

The 1,000 strong study commissioned by employment law specialists, Crossland Employment Solicitors, also found that 20 per cent of employees confirmed that they take, inject, or smoked illegal substances during the weekend and holidays, 12.5 per cent said they take illegal substances every week, and over 45 per cent agreed with their colleagues that it affects their performance in a negative way, such as making them feel down or depressed, tired at work or causes their change in mood, others said they “felt sick” , “generally unwell” while another claimed “increased productivity.”

Shockingly, 23 per cent admitted they had done something illegal to fund their drug use either in or outside of work, with 12 per cent saying this involved work stock or cash.

46 per cent of respondents also confirmed that they were aware of the potential disciplinary action that could be taken against them for substance abuse and result in them losing their job, but another 35 per cent were unsure of the exact grounds and consequences of any action – showing a wide gap in levels of knowledge among employees.

What employers said

“We found cocaine in the men’s toilets, “I found out an employee was smoking cannabis in a status about it on social media” and “employees coming to work either high, or coming down” were just some of the comments from bosses on their experience of substance abuse in the workplace.

The survey also found a wide range of approaches in how employers respond to substance abuse at work. 41 per cent of employers said they have an official drug awareness guide detailing company policy and potential disciplinary action, nearly a quarter said they undertake random drug and alcohol testing on employees, 21 per cent said they have a programme of training for managers or supervisors on recognising the signs of drug misuse, 14 per cent said they allow people time off to get help or encourage them to seek help, while 11 per cent said they just sack them.

Across different industry sectors, accountancy, banking and finance was highest with 23 per cent of employees suspected or known to take illegal substances during or outside of work. 22 per cent in engineering and manufacturing and 16 per cent in business consulting and management.

The challenges

Beverley Sunderland, Managing Director of Crossland Employment Solicitors said: “We were surprised by the number of people who know or suspect their colleagues have a drug problem and the multitude of ways they are having to cover for their colleagues’ performance, but we were totally shocked by how many respondents (23 per cent) admitted doing something illegal to fund their drug use, whether inside or outside of work.

“And while some employees are very aware (46 per cent) that disciplinary action could be taken against them for substance abuse, another 35 per cent were unsure of the exact grounds and consequences of any action by their employer – showing that there is big difference between organisations in how clearly they’re communicating their policies on the issue.

“There has been a noticeable shift in recent years in how the majority of employers handle substance abuse, from previously treating it as a disciplinary issue towards a more supportive approach where it is treated like an illness. However, all organisations should have their own detailed policy in place and clearly communicate it to employees. Depending on the type of job, employers also have legal obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act, The Transport and Works Act and The Misuse of Drugs Act.

“In my experience, substance abuse in the workplace cuts across all industry sectors, ages and jobs – from the highest paid professions to employees on minimum wages. But regardless of the job, any employer should point out the dangers to anyone they know is affected and provide them with proper encouragement and support to seek help.”

Full press release on www.personneltoday.com