The cost of employee drug use to UK businesses

Drug use within the workplace can have a serious effect on businesses. Drug and alcohol misuse in the workplace can have a negative impact not only on a company’s employees but also on the company financially. The use of drugs and alcohol is estimated to cost UK industry £4.1 billion every year.

Drug use may affect an employee’s performance at work and may also have a negative effect on other employees. Company directors have a number of concerns when it comes to drug use at work such as poor work performance, a negative effect on company morale, increased safety risks and the impact on employee relationships. The use of drugs in the workplace can also have a serious effect on a company’s image.

Drug use has also led to an increase in employee absence in UK companies.  It is estimated that 17 – 18 million working days are lost in the UK every year as a result of drug use, due not only to employees using drugs at work but also the consumption of alcohol at home and an inability to attend work.  This results in other employees having to work extra hours or days to fill in for absent colleagues.  Situations such as this can lead to a breakdown in employee relationships.

Drug use at work can also endanger an employee, as he or she will not be able to do their job properly, thus placing other employees in danger and potentially affecting a company’s image.  This applies not only to alcohol use within the workplace but also to the use of other drugs.  Drug use at work can result in an employee behaving inappropriately and will affect the way that he or she interacts with customers and fellow employees.

Employers can take a number of steps to tackle the issue of drug use in the workplace – employees who use drugs at work regularly may have a problem so employers will need to act in a way that will not only prevent problems in the workplace but also provide help and support for the individual involved.

A drugs testing system can be implemented in the workplace in order to reduce the risk of employees using drugs. Companies such as provide support for companies and individuals with drug-related issues. Companies can receive help to start their own screening programme in order to prevent drug use at work.

Preventing drug use in the workplace will promote a positive company image and, at the same time, help the employees.  It is important that a company provides a safe working environment and that employees are able to deliver a good work performance.  By having a drug and alcohol policy and by introducing a drugs testing system, employers will be able to tackle the problem of drug abuse in the workplace.  This will reduce employee absence, enable the company to focus on the safety and welfare of employees and improve the company’s overall image.