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A third of employees take illegal drugs

More than a third (35%) of employees know or suspect that colleagues have a drug problem or take illegal substances

This is according to research from Crossland Employment Solicitors. The 1,000-participant study found that 20% of employees take, inject, or smoke illegal substances at the weekends or during their holidays, with 12.5% taking illegal substances every week.

Employers shared their experiences of finding out about drug use in the workplace, with one admitting they found cocaine in the men’s toilets, and another reporting discovering that an employee smoked cannabis in a social media update.

However, only 41% of employers said they have an official drug awareness guide detailing company policy and potential disciplinary action. Just 21% have a training programme for managers or supervisors on recognising the signs of drug misuse. An eighth (14%) allow people time off to get help or encourage them to seek help, while 11% stated they sack employees who are discovered to be using drugs.

One in five (19%) employees said they've had to pick up the work of colleagues who use drugs, 14% said colleagues who use drugs are more prone to accidents and mistakes, and 22% said they were prone to mood swings.

Accountancy, banking and finance had the highest rate of reported drug use, with 23% of staff suspected or known to take illegal substances during or outside of work. Rates in engineering and manufacturing were 22%, and 16% in business consulting and management.

Out of those that use drugs, 23% admitted they had done something illegal to fund their drug use either in or outside of work, with 12% saying this involved work stock or cash.

Beverley Sunderland, managing director of Crossland Employment Solicitors, said she was surprised by the number of people who know or suspect their colleagues have a drug problem, but was “totally shocked” by how many respondents admitted doing something illegal to fund their drug use.

“In my experience substance abuse in the workplace cuts across all industry sectors, ages and jobs – from the highest paid professions to employees on minimum wage,” she said. “But regardless of the job, any employer should point out the dangers to anyone they know is affected and provide them with proper encouragement and support to seek help.”