Today’s blanket ban on legal highs has been welcomed by leading employment law expert ELAS.
Danny Clarke, head of occupational health and safety, who also sits on the board of the European Workplace Drug Testing Society, says: “The ban introduced today is very welcome news to employers. It will give them greater autonomy and clarity when dealing with employees that may use such substances, or are in possession of them at work, thus maintaining a productive workplace where their employees feel safe.”
Legal highs have been in the news in recent days particularly in Greater Manchester and, some are concerned this ban may force the trade in legal highs underground making them potentially more of a problem.
Danny Clarke adds: “The ban on legal highs reinforces the need for companies to have effective processes in place in order to manage the risk associated with substance misuse within the workplace. Employers should be aware of the signs of legal high use, in the same way they would look out for signs of any other drug use in the workplace. It’s important to remember that all drugs carry health risks and that these known health risks – and perhaps many more which are yet to be uncovered –apply to so-called ‘legal highs’. Our advice to employers is to review their policies and strategies for managing risk in light of these changes.”
Peter Mooney, head of consultancy at ELAS, also adds: “At first glance, it might seem heavy-handed to insist that staff understand that drug misuse could cost them their job, but there are very severe penalties for employers who fail to prevent accidents caused by the actions of an employee. Hard as it might seem, it is better to let a worker go than to risk the business going under, just because that individual chose to put their own enjoyment above the safety and welfare of their colleagues or the public.”
In a 2015 survey commissioned by ELAS, a quarter of the British workforce admitted to working while under the influence of alcohol or drugs: