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What penalties can employees face for being under the influence of drugs at the workplace?

by , 23 January 2014
If you're wondering whether or not your employees will face penalties for being under the influence of drugs at the workplace, we have an answer for you...

The simple answer to the above question is 'yes'.

The penalties for being under the influence of drugs at the workplace are as follows:

According to the Health & Safety Advisor, if a person or employee thinks that someone is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, they have a duty to prevent that person entering or remaining in the workplace.

You (employer) must train all of your employees on the provisions of Section 14 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and keep it on file.

By training employees in their overall duties, you earn the right to enforce these duties!

Explain to your employees that if they work while intoxicated, they constitute a threat to themselves and those around them. Therefore, they have a duty to inform you of any behaviour that affects health and safety in the workplace.

If they don't, they'll be in contravention of General Safety Regulation 2A (3) and Section 14 and could end up with a R50 000 penalty, two years in jail or both.

Tell employees to also inform you if they're unable to perform their duties safely because of intoxication, medication or drugs.

Remember that substance abuse can cause problems at work

These problems include:

  1. After-effects, for example, a hangover
  2. Absenteeism, illness, reduced productivity
  3. Preoccupation with getting and using substances while at work
  4. Illegal activities at work, including selling illicit drugs to other employees.
  5. Stealing money or items of value from co-workers, to exchange for cash or drugs.

Essentially, the onus is on you as an employer to train your employees on the dangers of substance abuse and on the penalties for being under the influence of drugs at work. If you don't do this, it'll affect your bottom line.

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