CIPD: Nearly a third of employees have admitted using drugs at work, while more than four fifths (85 per cent) have been drunk in the workplace, a survey by health and safety law consultancy Protecting.co.uk has found.The survey, which polled more than 2,600 workers in offices, factories, retail and the public sector, also found 28 per cent admitted to using drugs at work, including legal highs, cannabis and other illegal narcotics.
Whilst 85 per cent said they had been drunk at work during the last year, 31 per cent admitted to being drunk at work, or having their capacity to work diminished through alcohol, at least once a week.
According to the results, office workers were more likely to be drunk at work, while those working in retail or public-facing jobs were more likely to stay sober. However, 14 per cent of factory workers said they had drunk alcohol at lunchtime and then operated machinery in the afternoon. A further 5 per cent of factory workers said they had used machinery after taking drugs.
Drug taking was found to be a bigger issue for younger people, with 90 per cent of those admitting to using drugs aged under 30 years old.
Mark Hall, spokesman for Protecting.co.uk, said bosses needed to be clear with employees that drug use and drunkenness is unacceptable in their organisation, and they need to be seen to be enforcing their policies.
“People under the influence of drink or drugs in the workplace increase the risk of an accident as they put both themselves and their colleagues in danger,” he said.
“In a bank or an office, just one fat finger on a keyboard could cost thousands, millions, in lost trade. That’s the cost of a pub lunch.”
Pat Hicks, senior adviser at the free employment advice service Acas, said it is becoming increasingly common for employers to have an alcohol and drug-related employment policy in place.
“Employers should do a risk assessment,” Hicks said. “What you don’t want is a draconian policy covering every eventuality when there is no likelihood of it happening.
“The second thing is looking at the nature of the work. Is there machinery involved? Is there driving? Then decide what the policy needs to cover and introduce it to employees working with trade unions or whatever so people know what the policy is, what is expected of them and the implications of operating outside of that policy.”
Any alcohol and drugs policy should then be linked to an employer’s disciplinary policy, Hicks advised.
“Employers should decide whether they consider being under the influence as a gross misconduct issue, which potentially would lead to dismissal on the first offence, or an ordinary misconduct issue which would lead into disciplinary process.”
But Hicks warned against dismissing employees on the spot: “If they have serious concerns they should suspend them. But if they think they are drunk, they shouldn’t tell them to drive home. They should suspend them, investigate and then make a decision,” she said.