Absenteeism caused by drug and alcohol use costs British businesses millions of pounds each year.

Staff skipping shifts due to substance misuse affects productivity and can have a negative impact on team morale. But what can employers do to try to prevent their staff from abusing alcohol and drugs.

Here’s our guide on addressing substance misuse before it becomes a major issue for your business:

  1. Think of a strategy for addressing drug and alcohol use in the workplace

One of the first things you should do as an employer is come up with a plan on how to deal with workplace drug testing at your company. This could include educating staff about the dangers of drugs, introducing a drug testing programme and clearly communicating what will happen to employees if they are found to have taken illegal substances. It is important that all your line managers understand how to spot the signs that a member of their team may be abusing drugs or alcohol and are given training in how to deal with the situation and offer appropriate support.

  1. Write a company policy on drugs and alcohol

Come up with a clear policy on drugs and alcohol and communicate it with all your staff so everyone knows where they stand. If you plan to introduce drug testing, include exactly how it will work in your policy. Will you use random testing and if so, how many people will be tested each month? You may decide to use drugs tests while investigating workplace incidents or even as a routine part of the recruitment process. It is also important that you include the potential consequences of substance misuse. Will staff be given a warning or could they face dismissal or some other form of disciplinary action? It is also vital to clearly spell out the consequences of refusing to take a drugs test as well as failing one.

  1. Talk to your staff

If you are concerned a member of your staff may be struggling with addiction, talk to them. Offer them a friendly ear and some support so you can try and find a positive way to deal with the problem and prevent it impacting on your business. If you know for certain that an employee has been abusing drugs and alcohol, you may want to take disciplinary action. But it is also possible to help workers remain in their job by giving them time off to deal with their issues, referring them for specialist support or helping them access treatment or counselling. AlphaBiolabs carries out post-rehabilitation drug testing which can be used to regularly check the progress of a recovering addict who has returned to the workplace.

  1. Make sure random testing is fair

If you introduce random drug testing, then make sure it really is random. Come up with a fair way of selecting the staff who will be asked to take tests and ensure they are picked from every level of the company, including management. However, you can include a clause in your drug testing policy that you will ask individuals to take a drugs test if you have any reason to suspect they may be misusing either drugs or alcohol. It is also vital to use a testing company which follows strict procedures and produces accurate results so they would stand up as evidence if the matter ever came before an employment tribunal. AlphaBiolabs is UKAS-accredited and our workplace drug testing results are legally defensible as we maintain a strict chain of custody to protect the integrity of samples.