Drug use in workplace a grave concern

Johor Baru North OCPD Asst Comm Mohd Taib Ahmad (second from left) showing the seized drugs during the press conference in Johor Baru on Oct 22.

DRUG addiction and drug offences are undoubtedly serious among the younger generation. It appears to be generally on the increase, at least from what one can gather from the coverage given to these matters in the mass media (pic).

A person who deals with dangerous drugs (trafficker) or is presumed to have possession and control over the dangerous drugs may be arrested and charged in court pursuant to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which currently provides for mandatory sentences of death, life imprisonment and caning. The level of punishment is determined in accordance with the type and quantity of drugs.

The offences involving drug misuse or abuse among the Malaysian workforce are critical and worrying the Government. Besides having devastating impact on the individual’s mental and physical health, drug-related offences in the workplace will have negative impact on organisational performance.

Drug addicts usually have symptoms such as sudden mood changes, unusual irritability and/or aggression, confusion, abnormal fluctuations in energy levels, poor concentration and performance of tasks, poor time-keeping and deterioration in relationships with friends, colleagues, managers and customers, among others.

The work performance of drug addicts usually deteriorates as they are unable to concentrate on their work besides being frequently absent from the workplace. Furthermore, it compromises the employer’s duty to ensure a reasonably safe and conducive workplace.

Drug abuse among employees in and outside the workplace is something that is clearly not tolerated in Malaysia and is often viewed as acts of gross misconduct which justify dismissal from employment.

Similarly, possession of any dangerous drugs in the workplace is tantamount to serious misconduct and termination is reasonable in the interest of discipline. Even a criminal conviction for drug trafficking committed outside the workplace is a serious matter to be dealt with by the company in accordance with its disciplinary procedure.

In Muhd Awaidlah Abd Kadir v Perusa­haan Otomobil Nasional (Proton) (2011), the Industrial Court stated inter alia, that the company cannot afford to have employees who are on drugs because they are not only jeopardising their own lives but also the lives of other co-workers in the factory.

Again, in Sukur Ahmad & 4 Ors v Okumura Metals (M) Sdn Bhd (2009), the Industrial Court noted that the usage of drugs in the workplace is a serious misconduct and warrants the dismissal from service of any worker if he is tested positive for drugs.

To ensure the workplace is free from drugs, employers should strictly forbid the workers from getting involved in drug abuse in the course of their duties. The company’s policy usually prohibits the illicit use, possession, distribution, sale, storage, procurement or manufacture of the drugs and this is normally contained in the employee’s terms and conditions of service or employee handbook.

Suspected or randomly selected employees would be asked to undergo a urine test in accordance with the company’s procedures for the purpose of detecting whether he was involved in drug abuse.

The test would be carried out by a chemist whose report would indicate whether the employee’s urine contained active ingredients of drugs such as cannabis, morphine, heroin, cocaine, amphetamine, syabu or others.

In short, drug abuse in the workplace is a serious matter as it compromises safety at the workplace besides affecting the employee’s productivity and damaging the organisational image and reputation.


Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyyah of Laws

International Islamic University Malaysia

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