Cannabis joint

The survey also found a wide range of approaches in how employers respond to substance abuse at work. Forty-one per cent of employers said they have an official drug awareness guide detailing company policy and potential disciplinary action, nearly a quarter (23%) said they undertake random drug and alcohol testing on employees. Twenty-one per cent said they have a programme of training for managers or supervisors on recognising the signs of drug misuse, 14% said they allow people time off to get help or encourage them to seek help, while 11% said they just sack them.

Across different industry sectors, accountancy, banking and finance was highest with 23% of employees suspected or known to take illegal substances during or outside of work. 22 per cent in engineering and manufacturing and 16 per cent in business consulting and management.

Beverley Sunderland, managing director of Crossland Employment Solicitors said: “We were surprised by the number of people who know or suspect their colleagues have a drug problem and the multitude of ways they are having to cover for their colleagues’ performance, but we were totally shocked by how many respondents admitted doing something illegal to fund their drug use, whether inside or outside of work."

She added: “In my experience, substance abuse in the workplace cuts across all industry sectors, ages and jobs – from the highest paid professions to employees on minimum wages. But regardless of the job, any employer should point out the dangers to anyone they know is affected and provide them with proper encouragement and support to seek help.”