Employers 'could be held liable in drug cases'

01-12-2008

Employers 'could be held liable in drug cases'
Employers are being warned that they must have proper drink and drug policies in place as they could be held liable for the actions of any employees who are under the influence.

Details of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 were discussed at a conference organised by Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI) yesterday.

It was announced that companies could face fines of up to €3 million (£2.5 million) or up to two years imprisonment for breaches of management in this area.

MQI director Tony Geoghegan said: "The employer can be held liable for contributing to the problem if it was deemed workplace stress was a factor or the employer knew about the drug or alcohol problem and did not intervene."

According to a spokesperson for ClickAJob, it is an issue that employers increasingly will have to get used to.

"Employers already screen for attitude and skills compatibility, but social behaviour is equally critical, particularly if employees have to interface with customers," he says.

"In the US, it is already standard practice to screen for conditions of drug or alcohol abuse. With social pressures - particularly stress - reaching similar levels here, it is only a matter of time before UK employers find they have to follow suit."

"Of course, the heart of the matter is the quality of the employer-employee relationship. It's not just the employer who is responsible for employee behaviour towards the public – employees have a responsibility too, to themselves as well as their employers," he concludes.

Earlier this month, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health advised employers that they must not cut back on health and safety in the workplace to save money during the recession.

Related categories: HR / Recruitment.


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