22 January 2016: Substance Abuse at Work:
In years gone by, many employers were relaxed about staff smoking in the office, or drinking alcohol at lunchtime. Nowadays, smoking in confined spaces is illegal, and drinking during office hours is generally frowned upon or banned.
Most employers have policies in place dealing with smoking and drinking. Some employers have policies expressly dealing with the consumption of illegal drugs. However few employers have policies in place dealing with legal highs, though working or under the effects of a psycho-active substance could have very serious consequences in many jobs.
The government has been playing catch up with inventive chemists, so as soon as one compound is made illegal, the chemists come up with another. Some people may think that just because something is referred to as a ‘legal’ high, its use is acceptable. Most employers would disagree.
Employers should consider updating their relevant polices to reflect that they consider:
- the possession and consumption of illegal drugs or other psycho-active substances;
- or substances which may otherwise affect the proper performance of duties or;
- working under their influence or;
- consumption of such substances outside work which may bring the organisation into disrepute;
…as gross misconduct for which they may be dismissed summarily.
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