20/12/2001

UK organisations “ill-equipped” to deal with drug abuse

Nearly half of UK organisations do not have a formal policy to tackle the problem of drug and alcohol abuse at work.

This was revealed in the findings of a survey Alcohol and Drug Policies in UK Organisations, published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. This is despite the fact that alcohol abuse is a growing problem, particularly among women, and costs industry approximately £2.3 billion in terms of sickness absence and costs to the NHS.

The findings reveal that most of the organisations with existing policies have introduced them as a reaction to absence and other disciplinary offences. In addition, the majority of employers tackle the problem with disciplinary action, even though they consider it to be the least effective approach.

Around a half of the employers with policies report offering counselling services to tackle the issues; a significant proportion refer people to an occupational health expert and around a third offer employees paid time off while they receive treatment. Employers in the public sector are more likely to have more of these effective approaches in place.

Though many employers do not have formal policies in place, one in five organisations report the use of preventative measures including employee assistance programmes, management training and health promotion programmes.

Around 70 per cent of Human Resources professionals said that they offer employee assistance schemes and awareness training to help managers recognise employee problems, and believed that they are the most effective way of reducing drink and drug problems. (MB)

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