New CCI data has revealed that drugs in the workplace are still a major concern for WA businesses, prompting calls for changes in IR regulations regarding drug testing and dismissals.

In 2017, the CCI’s Employee Relations Advice Centre received a steady stream of requests for advice from employers related to drugs in the workplace with 20 calls per month – a similar amount to 2016.

The calls were related to implementing drug and alcohol policies and managing employees affected by methamphetamine, alcohol, prescription medication, synthetic drugs, marijuana and other drugs.

CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott says the majority of calls received are from businesses in high-risk industries, including manufacturing, construction and mining, where the effects of drugs and alcohol in the workplace could be catastrophic.

“This is a serious concern for employers because it threatens the safety of workers,” she says.

“Employers have told CCI about experiences of erratic and aggressive behaviour toward co-workers, irrational behaviour resulting in mistakes being made, significant drops in productivity, and frequent, unexplained absenteeism when abuse of drugs or alcohol is occurring.” 

Wilmott called for a rethink on IR regulations on drug testing and dismissals to ensure the safety of workplaces.

“Employers must be supported by an industrial relations regulatory framework that allows businesses to implement appropriate drug and alcohol testing programs that effectively protect their organisations, every employee and the public from significant safety concerns posed by employees affected by drugs and alcohol,” she says.

“The Fair Work Act should be amended to give employers the discretion to choose which drug testing method is most suitable for their industry, and to recognise the obligations employees have to their employer and co-workers to maintain a safe workplace.

“Employers are wanting to be pro-active by putting appropriate processes in place to help their employees, to prevent these issues occurring, and to ensure that workplaces are safe. But in those instances where they are unable to do so, they should be able to dismiss these employees without facing risk of unfair dismissal claims.”

►Need help managing drug and alcohol issues in your workplace? Talk to CCI’s Employee Relations Advice Centre today on (08) 9365 7660 for advice.