The frequency of drug addiction and drug-related workplace incidents has increased in recent years due to the legalization of marijuana, which has also led to greater awareness of this topic.
But, as employers go forward with their policies and values, they must educate themselves on employee rights related to substance use in the workplace. In the US, drug use policies in the workplace have been a hot topic since the 1980s.
Yet, in today's growing health-conscious and anti-drug culture, more employers are implementing strict preventive methods to prevent drug use among employees. Employers may be one of the biggest beneficiaries of a drug-free workplace environment, as employees who are free from controlled substances will be able to perform their jobs with greater efficiency.
Also, employees in a drug-free workplace are likely to feel more safe and secure. But, implementing a drug-free workplace depends on how strict the policy is. This article provides information on ten ways to enforce a drug-free workplace policy at your workplace.
Table Of Contents:
- Why Should Employers Have A Drug-Free Workplace Policy?
- What Are The Top 10 Ways To Enforce A Drug-Free Workplace Policy At Your Workplace?
- How Should Employers Decide What Kind Of Program To Use To Enforce A Drug-Free Workplace Policy?
- Are There Any Negatives That Come With Implementing A Drug-Free Workplace Policy?
Why Should Employers Have A Drug-Free Workplace Policy?
A study done by M.S. Reilly and Associates in 2001 showed that worker productivity is affected by illicit drug use. One of the reasons for a workplace accident or incident is impairment due to drugs, which can include being under the influence of alcohol, being on prescription medication, or being under the influence of illicit drugs.
Workers impaired due to controlled substances while performing their job responsibilities are more likely to be injured on the job than those not using substances such as alcohol and drugs. Not only does this impact the employee's health, but it also affects their productivity and safety.
Companies that implement a drug-free workplace policy allow all employees to feel secure, comfortable, and safe at work. It also allows employees to be their best daily, promoting good morale and a strong team spirit.
A drug-free workplace helps to protect the health and safety of people who are using drugs at work. The use of illicit drugs may not be a choice, but the rights of employees who use them are still protected. Creating a safe, non-threatening environment for these employees will make them more comfortable admitting their drug usage to other staff members.
Moreover, Certain Benefits Of A Drug-Free Workplace Include The Following:
- It promotes a healthy and safe environment where employees can perform their job duties with no health risks.
- It attracts and retains qualified, productive, and motivated employees.
- It increases employee productivity.
- It reduces the rate of workplace injuries and illnesses by minimizing or eliminating the use of drugs in the workplace during business hours or work events.
- It minimizes absenteeism due to illness caused by drug abuse, which saves you time and money spent on filling vacancies (this approach is also cost-effective).
- It reduces workplace drug abuse.
- It ensures that the company's assets are protected from theft or other illegal activities such as violence and harassment.
- It promotes a positive image of the company.
What Are The Top 10 Ways To Enforce A Drug-Free Workplace Policy At Your Workplace?
- Treat all employees equally, regardless of social status, race, or religion. Please do not allow discrimination, including harassment, because it may lead to legal issues such as lawsuits and criminal charges. Besides, it shows that the company is tolerant of different types of people and thus gained popularity in the market.
- Have a written drug-free workplace policy and include company policies on illegal drugs and alcohol in the workplace, along with consequences if violated. To make it effective, ensure that your company policy is visible and available throughout the workplace. For example, have it posted on bulletin boards and in the employee handbook. Also, the policy must outline your company's expectations about substance use.
- Educate Employees on the policy; to be successful, you first need to educate employees about substance abuse, especially in their jobs. They need to know what substances are likely to impair their ability to do the job and what substances might not affect them during work hours if appropriately used. Education through practical hands-on instructional programs is a good start.
- Create a substance abuse program and complete the required drug and alcohol testing on new hires and existing employees. Also, encourage employee assistance programs (EAP) for those who struggle with substance abuse. It will ensure that all employees understand and respect the policy and reduce the chance of being fired due to drug use. Moreover, at least you can have resources on hand to refer employees who may need help.
- Build a Culture of Support to promote a drug-free workplace and promote the idea that drug use is not acceptable in your organization. You can do this by using new slogans, promoting anti-drug messages within the organization, and even having employees pledge that the employees do not use drugs. It is also vital to grow and develop a positive work environment where employees can speak up about potential problems and concerns. By doing so, you encourage open communication among everyone about how to keep your company safe, healthy, and productive.
- Train supervisors on how to recognize signs of drug abuse. Supervisors are in a unique position to observe the behavior of employees. So they must be able to notice changes in behavior, such as altered sleep patterns, lack of energy and motivation, mood swings, and weight changes (up or down).
- Provide a drug-free workplace by conducting surprise inspections regularly to check for prohibited items such as drugs, guns, illicit alcohol, pornography, and even weapons. It will ensure that all employees understand that your company takes its policy seriously. Moreover, perform drug and alcohol testing when required, and follow up with Immediate Relapse Treatment for those who test positive for drugs.
- Feel free to use a Drug-Free Workplace form to have an employee fill out right at the beginning of their employment. The form should ask employees to identify their drug of choice and whether they use any illegal drugs while on company time. It also should ask employees to disclose if they have ever been convicted of a crime related to illegal drugs or alcohol in the past.
- Give employees a reward program; if a new employee seeks help or succeeds in abstaining from drug use over a while, reward and commend the employee in some way. It is not essential to get help but to reinforce this positive behavior at every opportunity.
- Put in place a policy that allows employees to report abuse complaints anonymously. It is vital if you are concerned about any employee who is using more than one drug at the same time. An employee must have a way to report their concerns and problems without fear of retaliation or discipline.
How Should Employers Decide What Kind Of Program To Use To Enforce A Drug-Free Workplace Policy?
The kind of program a company will use to enforce its drug-free workplace policy will depend on the company itself. Yet, some things can be kept in mind when selecting a program.
First, it should have a positive atmosphere. People need to be happy and comfortable working in a drug-free workplace environment. The employees working at the organization must develop the program because they are generally aware of what makes their workplace productive and enjoyable.
Second, it should focus on preventative measures rather than punitive actions to reduce the harm caused by illicit drug use. The idea of the program is not to punish workers who use drugs but to protect them from being fired because of such behavior.
Third, it should be easy to administer. The program must be easy to use and clear on how to conduct tests, what happens with positive results, and more. Furthermore, the program must be accessible to all employees, from blue-collar workers to the executive level.
Many companies have hired outside consultants to help administrate these programs, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
Are There Any Negatives That Come With Implementing A Drug-Free Workplace Policy?
It is important to remember that even though the Drug-Free Workplace Program may be productive, it does have its drawbacks. For example, it can be difficult to enforce the policy, especially if an employee's job involves regular access to chemicals and other dangerous substances.
Due to these concerns, companies should consult with experts and behavioral psychologists before implementing a drug-free workplace program. Another potential negative to implementing a drug-free workplace policy is the financial resources required for testing, treatment, and keeping the program active.
These costs may be passed on to employees or used to fund the prevention and treatment programs. It can be difficult to determine and even more challenging to track.
Finally, many employers are concerned with the liability issues that arise from a drug-free workplace policy. So, they prefer to wait until they have analyzed the cost-benefit ratio of such programs before implementing them.
Implementing a drug-free workplace policy is one of the best things employers can do to protect their company's health, safety, and productivity. Unfortunately, drug abuse is a serious issue, so it must be dealt with firmly.
To ensure that you are protected in all situations, it is vital to consult with experts before implementing your program. It would help if you did not do this alone without consulting someone with experience dealing with drug-related issues in the workplace.
Thus, it is crucial to tool a drug-free workplace policy as soon as possible so that you can protect your company's health and well-being. For information related to workplace safety, click here.
What Is The Difference Between A Drug-Free Workplace Program Act And A Substance Abuse Program?
The federal law has developed Drug-Free Workplace Program Act to keep workplace environments safe and productive by reducing the number of employees using illicit drugs on their own time.
But, since many people are using alcohol, cannabis, or other illicit drugs on the job, companies now focus on providing treatment for employees who want help stop using drugs. It is called a Substance Abuse Program.
Can Your Company Fire An Employee Under This Policy?
Yes. But, the company must have a Drug-Free Workplace Program before the firing can occur. Otherwise, it is possible that the action would be considered wrongful and could be subject to legal action.
Steps For Avoiding Legal Problems With A Drug-Free Workplace
A few steps to avoid legal problems with a Drug-Free Workplace Policy exist. An employer can reduce the chance of being sued or facing criminal charges if they:
- An employer must have a clear policy that defines who is affected and what the company will do to enforce it, including forms and disciplinary measures.
- Notify all employees of the policy, emphasizing supervisors and other people likely to be involved with drug and alcohol testing and enforcement.
- Take no punitive action against employees until the start of a treatment program.
- Have a written policy that does not violate the law, including discrimination, privacy, and other legal issues.
- It is advisable not to rush into judgment but to wait long enough to get the results of drug tests.
- The employers must set clear penalties for violations, including how the information will be handled and keeping state laws and privacy issues in mind.