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Legal highs – an employer’s guide

Employers are being warned of their responsibilities under a new act banning so-called legal highs.

The Psychoactive Substance Act 2016 came into force recently and bans any substance which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect in a person, i.e. stimulating or depressing an individual’s central nervous system and affecting their mental functioning or emotional state.

Some substances are exempt such as alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, nicotine and controlled drugs, but it is an offence under the act to produce such a substance, possess it, supply it or import it.

Sarah Collier, associate solicitor in the Employment & HR team at regional law firm Napthens, said: “Employers are rightly concerned with controlling the use of drugs and alcohol in the workplace and want to promote a safe and healthy working environment.

“Some employers will already have a policy on drugs and alcohol in the workplace, however, given the range of effects that a psychoactive substance may have, it is important for employers to consider their specific impact on the workplace.

“Therefore the use of psychoactive substances should be incorporated into policies that employers already have in place, or employers should consider creating policies where they do not have one.

“The policy should outline the employer’s approach and make it clear how employees affected by the use of psychoactive substances can seek help. Employers should also take steps to improve the awareness of psychoactive substances in the workplace and provide training for managers and staff to help them identify the signs of their use.

“If employers have any doubts as to their responsibilities they should contact their legal advisor for more information.”

solicitor - Napthens - Employment & HR