SUMMARY: Use of legal highs has increased recently – how can employers manage this in the workplace?
The increase in the use of legal highs is now widely publicised. Given this increase, the reality is that some employees may be at work under the influence. This could present employers with two main problems: impaired employee performance; and serious health and safety implications for both the employer and the employee.
Whilst some employers may dismiss this issue on the basis it is unlikely to be a significant concern for them, the following points are worth noting when deciding whether to be proactive:
- Many so called “legal highs” are actually illegal.
- The drugs can have the same effects on users as some more traditional illegal substances.
- During 2014 in England, such drugs were implicated in 129 deaths.
- Legislation is currently going through Parliament to ban the supply of these drugs.
We would therefore recommend the following action points for employers:
- Update policies – consider how this issue can be covered in alcohol and drugs policies. Employers should have clear rules about coming to work under the influence of drugs and alcohol and about taking drugs or drinking at work. Legal highs can be treated in the same way as other drugs would be. If policies are unclear, this is the time to update them.
- Remind – remind employees attending work under the influence of drugs that the use of legal highs at work is banned and ensure that they are aware of relevant policies and the potential sanctions for breaching these policies.
- Educate – educate staff and line managers on the signs of drug use, what to be aware of and the action they should take.
For more details about the issues in this employment law article or if you would like an alcohol and drugs policy please contact:
+44 (0) 808 172 93 22
This update is for general guidance only and does not constitute definitive advice.