Alcohol and other drug abuse is widespread in our society, and it affects us all
in many ways. Although national, State, and local efforts have begun to show encouraging
results, the problem of alcohol and other drug abuse remains a serious issue.
No workplace is immune. In 1991 the National Institute on
Drug Abuse reported that 68 percent of illicit drug users were employed. Employers who
think alcohol and other drug abuse will never be a problem in their workplace should
consider this: Job applicants who cant pass a drug test tend to apply to companies
that dont test.
|To find out if your Workers Compensation carrier offers a premium discount, call your local division of Workers Comp., insurance company, or States attorney general.
|Employers who have implemented drug-free workplace programs have important experiences to share:
- Employers with successful drug-free workplace programs report decreases in absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover, and theft; increases in productivity; and overall improved morale.
- Employers with longstanding programs report better health status among many employees and family members and decreased use of medical benefits.
- Some organizations with drug-free workplace programs qualify for incentives, for example, decreased premium costs for certain kinds of insurance, such as Workers Compensation.
- Employers find that employees, employee representatives, and unions often welcome drug-free workplace programs. If you dont have a program, your employees may be wondering why.
Employers with drug-free workplace programs find that current users of alcohol and other drugs prefer organizations that do not have such programs.
An effective program can keep you from being the employer of choice for users, abusers, and addicts.
The Drug-Free Workplace Act: The Basics
Programs aimed at health promotion and alcohol and other drug abuse prevention in the workplace are not new. Recent legislation, however, has reinforced the importance of the workplace in combating alcohol and other drug abuse. In 1986 the President signed an Executive Order mandating that all Federal agencies be drug-free. In 1988 Congress passed the Drug-Free Workplace Act, which requires Federal grantees and recipients of Federal contracts of $25,000 or more to comply with the following:
- The employer must have a written policy that explains what is prohibited and the consequences of violating the policy.
- Employees must read and consent to the policy as a condition of employment on the project.
- The employer must have an awareness program to educate employees about alcohol and other drug abuse and addiction, the employers policy, and available help, counseling, and assistance.
- Employees must disclose any conviction for a drug-related offense in the workplace to the employer within 5 days after such conviction.
- Employers must disclose any conviction for a drug-related offense in the workplace to the Federal agency with which the employer has a grant or contract within 10 days after receiving notice from the employee or others.
- Employers must make an ongoing effort to maintain a workplace free of drugs.
Are You Required to Have a Drug-Free Workplace Program?
- Do you have a Federal grant?
- Do you have a Federal contract valued at $25,000 or more?
- Do you have any subcontracts that include a drug-free workplace requirement?
- Are you subject to any Federal agency regulations, such as those of the Department of Transportation, Department of Defense, or Nuclear Regulatory Commission?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you are probably required to have a program. Even if you are not required to comply with the Drug-Free Workplace Act, it provides guidelines that you can use to develop a drug-free workplace program.
If you have questions about whether you are required to have a program in your workplace, call the CSAPs (center for Substance Abuse Prevention) Workplace Helpline at 1-800-WORKPLACE for assistance. The Helpline is a free and confidential service of the center for Substance Abuse Prevention, an agency of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services.
Drug-Free Workplaces: Other Elements
Many drug-free workplace programs go beyond having a policy and providing education about alcohol and other drug abuse. Some other options are listed below:
Training for Supervisors, Stewards, Managers, and Business Agents. In larger workplaces, people in supervisory positions are often closest to employees; therefore, they are usually the best ones to be responsible for implementing the policy and increasing employee awareness about alcohol and other drugs. To do this, they will need the right knowledge and skills.
Employee Assistance or Referral Programs. In some cases it may be necessary to refer troubled employees for treatment or counseling. Increasingly, employers do this through an employee assistance program (EAP). An EAP can help to connect troubled employees with counseling or treatment for alcohol, drug, and other problems. EAPs can also assist with related personal and family problems.
Drug Testing. Drug testing may be required by Federal, State, or local regulations. Some employers choose to test even when it isnt required. In some cases, testing is included in agreements between employers and unions.
If Youre Not Required, Why Bother?
Long before there was a Drug-Free Workplace Act, a number of larger employers and unions offered ways to help employees and their families find help for alcohol and other drug problems. Even before there were statistics to prove it, employers knew that alcohol and other drug abuse costs them money. Encouraging employees to find help when they need it saves money. It may even save an employees life, family, or job. Creating a drug-free workplace program or enhancing an existing program can be an important part of solving one of our countrys most persistent and serious problems and can lead to a healthier, more productive work force.