India promotes drug-free workplaces

May 22 2008 by Derek Torres Print This Article

India is set to become the anti-party people in the workplace state, and that's not cool. Yep, it seems that the government is asking big business to help establish a policy of a drug and alcohol free workplace - partly by providing exposure to the practice of yoga and meditation.

Doesn't really sound like a fun place to work, especially if you're accustomed to knocking back a cold one at lunchtime.

First, let's establish that I'm all for a drug-free workplace and putting in place a fair policy that helps prevent problems rather than solve ones. I would hope that it also includes rehabilitative measures for those who have trouble with the policy, rather than punitive ones.

That said, an alcohol-free policy might seem great (hello, USA) or dire (hello, France) depending on your worldview.

One must be intellectually honest and recognizing the difference between someone who has a drinking problem and someone who enjoys an alcoholic beverage with their meal. Even in countries where it's not an issue to enjoy a beer or wine at lunch, there is no tolerance for drunken behavior or reduced capacities in the workplace.

My worry with establishing an alcohol-free workplace initiative is that it won't make a distinction between the two. Rather, a poor policy will be implemented that uses a sweeping, draconian approach to handling a perceived, but likely inexistent problem.

I'll be following this topic with interest as the proposal makes its way through the workplace and into the halls of government, but if I'm a betting man (there's another policy to consider), I'm not betting on the government to get this one right.


Older Comments

Great for India. Drug screening is the best way to avoid problems and higher costs in the workplace. In the US the National Chamber of Cmmerce has put a price tag on drug abuse.

The national average estimate for the cost of substance abuse to a company per user is $7,000 in lost productivity, accidents, insurance premium increases, absenteeism and replacing fired and suspended employees. Use the following formula to estimate the cost of employee substance abuse in your business: 1. Estimate the percentage of your total number of employees that use drugs. The national average is 17 percent. 2. Multiply the number of employees you have by this percentage. 3. Multiply that by the national average cost per substance abuser ($7,000). 4. The result is the annual cost of substance abuse within your company.

With these numbers in mind and the safety of the work force at risk, it just makes sense.

Terry Bix