This is the second time we’ve written about drug use in Nurseries. Back in April 2017 we wrote about how common it was for staff to smoke cannabis.
Now we need to face another ‘elephant in the room’. We all know that many people in society take Class A drugs recreationally. If the percentages are that many people do it in society, I am afraid there’s a good chance those people are in employment and could work for you.
We often recommend drug testing for employers where the nature of what they do could present a real danger to Health & Safety. For example people working on the railways or in construction.
However, in general employment we do not recommend drug testing. We trust that our employees aren’t under the influence of anything more than strong coffee. But is this realistic?
According to the graph below from the Home Office, the usage of Class A drugs between 16-24 year olds is at 9%. That’s nearly 1 in 10 of the 16-24 year old population. On that basis the chances are that there may be young adults in your setting who take Class A drugs.
So, what can you do?
Well if you suspect your member of staff has reported to work under the influence of Class A drugs you can suspend and send them home. You do not need to know its drugs, you just need to believe it is. You would then investigate the allegation, that may involve taking statements from any witnesses or people with information, and speaking to the employee themselves. Caring for children and being under the influence of drugs is a serious conduct issue and can lead to dismissal for gross misconduct.
If you believe you employ someone who uses Class A drugs but is not turning up for work under the influence we still recommend you investigate and treat as serious misconduct. They may also need to be suspended and they may be unsuitable to work with children.
Remember people can and do consume drugs at work. We’ve had a suspicious white powder found on the cistern lid of a Day Nursery. It was cleaned by the Nursery Manager before the employer could investigate. Don’t fear speaking to the local police station if this happens and seek their advice.