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One in five Norwich employees would expect their P45 if addiction exposed

PUBLISHED: 06:00 18 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:49 18 April 2019

One in five Norwich employees say they believe they would lose their jobs if they admitted to a drug or alcohol problem. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

One in five Norwich employees say they believe they would lose their jobs if they admitted to a drug or alcohol problem. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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A new report has revealed that one in five people in Norwich believe they would lose their job if they revealed they had a drug or alcohol addiction.

Martin Preston, founder of Port of Call. Picture: Port of CallMartin Preston, founder of Port of Call. Picture: Port of Call

The research has been carried out by addiction help and support service Port of Call, which has rehabilitation centres for people struggling with dependence across East Anglia.

The data gathered by Port of Call also revealed that less than half of the people surveyed in Norwich would feel comfortable getting professional help; for fear that it would get back to their employers or affect future job prospects.

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Of the people who would ask, only 40% said they wouldn't be afraid to get professional help.

On top of this, 44% of people who took the survey said they would keep their addiction treatment a secret from colleagues, for fear of the consequences.

Port of Call founder Martin Preston said: “Addiction is a shame-based illness and people can have a fear of being 'found out'.

“Most people who call us are in full-time employment and don't want their employer to know they have an addiction problem, often for fear of losing their job.”

Mr Preston added: “We also take calls from employers who are trying to help a colleague, and often, even those with large HR and people teams, are unclear about what the firm's stance really is.

“Most organisations have a zero- tolerance policy around alcohol and drug use, which they require for health and safety, yet rarely have awareness of, or access to, specialist addiction treatment services.”

He said: “Some firms, thankfully, are more progressive and we're retained by a number of larger employers who genuinely want to help their people. If you're employing more than ten people, addiction is an issue that you're almost certain to encounter.”

The report also revealed that across the UK, results varied depending on the age of those surveyed.

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Younger people the least optimistic about their job prospects should they reveal an addiction, and older people more likely to keep it a secret.

Employers play 'dangerous game' if they seek to dismiss staff

Mike Barnes is a legal advisor providing HR and employment advice available to members of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Barnes said that employers seeking to dismiss staff over a drug or alcohol dependency are in fact “playing a dangerous game”.

He explained: “Often drug or alcohol abuse can be a coping mechanism for an underlying disability. As long as this - stress, for example - is diagnosed by a doctor, then an employee could take their company to a tribunal if they are dismissed because of drug or alcohol problems.”

He continued: “Because this is classed as a disability, along with other basic rights like protection against racism, sexism, and so on, employees don't have to be with a company for two years to take them to tribunal.”

He added: “Employers could have staff move on, but only if it was agreed with a doctor involved that it was best for the individual to do so, because they couldn't deal with the day to day tasks of work.”

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