There are many policies which any company has to have in place with regards to their employees, and one which most business owners hope they never have to act upon is their drugs policy. Whether the action that might follow as result would be dismissal of an employee or paying for them to visit a drug rehab centre, knowing one of your members of staff is a drugs user, is never pleasant for any employer.

One of the values of a company or organisation having a clear and unambiguous drug policy is that everyone, from the owner or CEO, down through management and finally to all the employees, knows exactly what the procedures are going to be. These will cover drug testing, sanctions, and disciplinary consequences, should they apply. Bear in mind, not all companies will have immediate dismissal as the sanction, and they may instead go down the rehabilitation route.

The point here is that everyone should know what the policy is so that there can be no confusion and more to the point, no apparent unfairness should an employee be subject to disciplinary action due to them failing a drug test. This is as much an aid to the employer as it the employees as it gives them a clear understanding of what steps to take, rather than making it up as they go along.

Health & Safety Laws

It should be noted that under health and safety laws as they pertain to places of business and employment, obligations are placed on both the employer and the employee in relation to ensuring they work in a safe environment and in a safe way, not just for their own well-being, but for that of those with which they work.

Within the policies which a company will instigate with regards to health and safety, it should include reference to drugs use. This is actually a legal requirement within some industries, but even if that does not include the one your business operates in, having a drugs policy that is applicable to your company and all who work for it, is highly recommended.

Drug Use In and Out of Work

In most cases, an employer cannot include terms and conditions which regulate an individual’s behaviour and conduct outside of work. In effect, it means that if someone spends all weekend getting high on drugs, or drinking themselves into oblivion, unless they are proven to negatively impact their performance during working hours, an employer can do little about it.

The key here is the degree to which the safety of others might be at risk due to someone being impaired by something they do out with work. For example, an office cleaner with a hangover is of no real risk to themselves or others whilst cleaning. However, a train driver who is still drowsy due to taking drugs the night before is most definitely putting others at risk. As such the drug policies within their respective employment contracts may differ to take account of this.

Drug Testing Policies

For most employers, the best way they can ensure they are proactive at ensuring their drug policy is effective is with the use of drug testing. This can occur randomly, or when specified conditions apply, such as an employee causing an accident in the workplace. Rules relating to drug testing should be included within the company’s drug policy and their conditions of employment should refer to an employee’s obligation to agree to drug testing when requested.