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Alarm over extent of workplace drug problem

Media statement Friday, August 14th, 2013

Alarm over extent of workplace drug problem

The extent and cost of drugs affecting the workplace and work output has raised the alarm with the Employers and Manufacturers Association.

Over half of the workplaces responding to a recent EMA survey* said they have had to take disciplinary action with an employee over a drugs issue.

"Nearly half of the employers (46 per cent) said they had to fire someone as a consequence of drug use," said David Lowe, EMA's Employment Services Manager.

"In all 56 per cent reported they have had to take disciplinary action over the use of drugs.

"63 per cent said drug use had resulted in a safety risk in their workplace.

"The survey also found 45 per cent of employers may not be complying with current legal requirements in relation to the effects of drugs in the workplace.

"For example, randomly testing all areas of the workplace to ensure it is drug free is generally unlawful, but employers find they need to carry out such tests to maintain safety and keep a productive workplace.

"We say the drugs causing the problems are illegal, and make workplaces unsafe, and penalise productivity.

"Employers taking a strict line against them are doing the right thing and its time the law was updated to support them.

"Employers confirmed the effect of drug use doesn't differentiate between work and home.

"Drugs taken at home affect work and if they're taken at work they affect home life.

"Employers reported the issues being raised are not only about safety; they reported problems with such as mood swings, rudeness to colleagues and customers, poor quality work, wasted materials, and rework.

"72 per cent of respondents said they believed drug use had resulted in lost productivity.

"Safe workplaces require the law to be clearer on drug use in the workplace and the measures that should apply to testing for them.

"Without clearer guidelines employers face an uphill battle to maintain a workplace that is safe and productive for all their staff."


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