EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Cyprus EWCO CAR on Use of Alcohol/Drugs at the Workplace

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  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 07 May 2012



About
Country:
Cyprus
Author:
Polina Stavrou
Institution:

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

In this questionnaire an attempt is made to record the existing situation in Cyprus regarding consumption of alcohol and use of addictive substances in the workplace, and their effects on workers’ health. According to the results of the questionnaire, in Cyprus this phenomenon is not widespread, and the social partners do not appear to be particularly concerned about its implications or how to solve the “problem”. In the workplace in general as well as during breaks workers avoid consuming alcohol, as it affects their job efficiency.

QUESTIONNAIRE

Block 1: Main sources of information dealing with the issue of alcohol/drug use at the workplace at national level and its relation with working conditions, etc.

1.1 Are there national statistical sources (surveys, administrative registers including company reports as surveys / reports from the Labour Inspectorate, Labour doctors, etc) that provide information on the issue of alcohol/drug use at the workplace in your country? If so, identify them and explain their characteristics and methodology. Please refer both to general population health surveys/sources or general alcohol/drug use surveys/sources as to working conditions or workplace specific surveys/sources

  • Name of the statistical source

  • Scope

  • Goals

  • Methodology

  • Periodicity

The main sources of information in Cyprus on use of alcohol and other substances refer to the situation in general, with some focusing on the workplace.

On the research front, the 2008 National Report to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, EMCDDA was published in 2009 by the Reitox National Focal Point, “Cyprus, new developments, Trends and In-depth Information on Selected issues. The report refers to the main trends and developments in Cyprus on the use of drugs on the social, economic, political and legal levels. Its purpose is to provide a full overview of this issue in the context of its obligations as a national focal point. It used interviews, desk research, official statistics, published data and surveys.

In January 2010 a survey conducted by the University of Nicosia on behalf of the Cyprus Anti-drugs Council (Αντιναρκωτικό Συμβούλιο Κύπρου) was published. Entitled “General Population Survey for Smoking, Alcohol and other Psychoactive Substances”, its general purpose was to study the use of psychoactive substances in Cypriot society. More specific objectives were: first, to estimate the proportions of users between the ages of 15 and 64 for each substance; second, to investigate the demographic characteristics of users; and third, to assess attitudes and views on matters relating to substance use. The nationwide survey used the door-to-door method with self-report, self-administered questionnaires on a representative sample of people.

1.2. Are there any other sources of information (published after mid-2000s) that may provide valuable information on the issue (i.e. ad-hoc studies, sectoral studies, administrative reports, articles, published case studies, etc). If so, identify and describe them.

There are several sources of information on preventing and dealing with the use of alcohol and drugs in particular, and their impacts. The following are believed to be most important:

Managing issues relating to the use of alcohol and other addictive substances11 The term “other addictive substances” includes all licit and illicit substances along with tobacco and overconsumption of prescription drugs. in the workplace, 2010, an informative brochure issued by the Department of Labour Inspection as part of the implementation of the 2009-2012 National Strategy on Drugs. Its objective is to provide guidelines on prevention, reduction and management of problems relating to use of alcohol and other addictive substances in the workplace. This brochure mainly provides information on employers’ responsibilities and employees’ obligations; it includes an annex containing advisory centres and preventive programmes.

National Strategy on Drugs 2009-2012, which was developed by the Cyprus Anti-drugs Council (CAC). This strategy and the actions accompanying it are the continuation of the 2004-2008 Strategy, and aim at ensuring the implementation of actions in the areas of prevention, therapy, harm reduction, social reintegration and reduction of supply.

Legal status of Drug testing in the workplace, a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), which also mentions Cyprus in relation to workplace drug testing and the legislation governing it. The report states that there is no specific legislation on workplace drug testing in Cyprus. However there is a general duty of the employer to ensure health and safety at work under the Safety and Health at work Law.

Legal approaches to drugs and driving, a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), which also mentions Cyprus in relation to type of offence and prosecution following detection of substances in drivers’ blood. The report states that prosecution usually takes place under the Narcotics Law of 1977, since use and possession of drugs is a criminal offence under that law anyway. No need to prove that the ability to drive safely was affected under the Narcotics Law

Block 2: Information on the extent of the use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace in your country, as well as the type of situations (sectors, occupations, working conditions, etc.) in which this use occurs, its consequences (production process, social relations at work) and the rationale behind it

2.1. Please provide the available data and information on the prevalence of drug/alcohol use at the workplace in your country, if possible differentiating data by:

  • Type of substance

  • Sectors => specific focus on the construction and transport sectors

  • Occupational profiles

  • Other relevant variables

The abovementioned “General Population Survey for Smoking, Alcohol and other Psychoactive Substances” on a sample that was sufficiently representative of the population of interest, reported that 1.7% responded that the use of alcohol was the cause of serious problems at work. To the question of whether the use of alcohol caused a serious problem in driving, 6.3% answered yes, without making it clear whether this was during working hours. After consuming 3-6 glasses of alcohol, 73.9% do not drive, although 17.6% drive infrequently and 1.7% quite frequently. It should be noted that it is not made clear whether they drive during working hours.

No reference is made either to consumption of alcohol or to use of narcotic substances by sector of economic activity or occupational profile.

2.2. Please provide data and information on the rationale and consequences of drug/alcohol use at work. Focus on construction, transport:

Reasons for consuming alcohol/drugs

  • Use of drugs related to certain working conditions (e.g. alcohol when working in cold / warm environments; stimulants when working at high rhythm, etc…)

  • Accessibility/availability

The General Population Survey for Smoking, Alcohol and other Psychoactive Substances showed that the main reasons for consuming alcohol were to be sociable (19.6%), improve mood (16.4%), relax (5.4%) and various reasons (19.6%). No reference was made to consumption in the workplace or the reasons for it. Alcohol is very easily accessible since the only restriction regards the buyer’s age.

As regards accessibility of substances such as marijuana or hashish, 32.8% answered that they are quite easy to find within 24 hours. The respective proportion for access to ecstasy was lower, at 19.4%, for heroin 14.1%, amphetamines 11.2% and LSD 9%.

According to representatives from the trade union organisations, Pancyprian Federation of Labour, PEO (Παγκύπρια Εργατική Ομοσπονδία, ΠΕΟ) and the Construction Workers, Carpenters, Metal Workers and General Workers Trade Union of PEO ( Συντεχνία Οικοδόμων , Ξυλουργών , Μεταλλωρύχων και Γενικών Εργατών Κύπρου ΠΕΟ) the reasons leading some workers, mainly immigrants, consume alcohol are social rather than occupational ones. The social reasons behind alcohol consumption between migrants are their conditions of residence, their isolation as well as their habits are considered to be the basic reasons rather than the nature of their occupations per se. According to the abovementioned trade unions, workers usually consume alcohol either before their work begins, mainly the evening of the previous day, or during working hours, but this occurs without their employers taking much notice of it. It must be noted that the majority of employers do not allow workers to consume alcohol in the workplace.

As regards the transport sector, the trade union organisation of PEO, Cyprus Agricultural, Forestry, Transport, Port, Seamen and Allied occupations, SEGDAMELIN-PEO, (Συντεχνία Εργατοϋπαλλήλων Γεωργίας, Δασών, Μεταφορών, Λιμενεργατών, Ναυτεργατών και Συναφών Επαγγελμάτων Κύπρου, ΣΕΓΔΑΜΕΛΙΝ ΠΕΟ), state that there is no problem, since no cases of driving while under the influence of alcohol or narcotic substances have been recorded. The occupation of driver demands full mental acuity and excellent reflexes; moreover constants checks during working time on the road are carried out by the Department of Road Transport (Τμήμα Οδικών Μεταφορών), regarding drivers’ capability and the suitability of their vehicles. The drivers themselves, therefore, believe that consumption of alcohol would prevent them from properly carrying out their duties and would also cause them problems with the authorities.

Consequences of consuming alcohol/drugs

  • working conditions affected by drug use (risk increase, accidents, absenteeism, sick leave…):

  • Accidents and fatalities due to alcohol/drug use

  • Sick leaves attributed to alcohol/drugs, absenteeism

  • Assessment of costs

Following an interview with functionaries from the Department of Labour Inspection for the purposes of this questionnaire, no workplace accidents or deaths caused by consumption of alcohol or other addictive substances were recorded.

In the abovementioned General Population Survey for Smoking, Alcohol and other Psychoactive Substances, 2.8% of the population answered that alcohol use had been the cause of a serious automobile accident, whereas only 0.3% answered that they had suffered a serious workplace accident after using alcohol.

The 2008 national report entitled Cyprus, New Developments, Trends and In-depth Information on Selected Issues (Mentioned on Part 1.1) reported only two indirect deaths from the use of narcotic substances occurred in 2008 and both involved an automobile accident. As regards the substances found after drug testing, substances such as opioids, cannabis and cocaine were ruled out. This report also refers to accidents due to alcohol use: based specifically on data from the Traffic Department of the Cyprus Police, 83 fatal accidents involving 55 drivers occurred in 2008. Of the 38 cases examined, 12 have been recorded with alcohol as the cause of death.

Interviews were also conducted as I already mentioned (Part 2.2) for the purposes of this questionnaire with officials of trade union organisations in the construction and transportation workers’ unions. The phenomenon of drinking on the job has been observed on construction Industry over the last five years, particularly among immigrants from East European countries such as Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. Based on rough estimations, the interviewees stated that only 3-4% of workers consume alcohol or are under the influence of alcohol in the workplace. The same source shows that accidents do occur with alcohol as the indirect cause, such as falls to the ground due to negligence. Such accidents often have particularly serious consequences but are not recorded as caused by alcohol consumption. Increased absences from work are not noted, and such cases do not involve any particular cost to the employer: if such people do not follow the employer’s recommendations, they are dismissed and other workers are easily found to replace them

  • Use of alcohol/drugs negatively affecting other working conditions:

  • Uneven workload distribution…

  • Work organisation

  • working environment (deteriorated social relations at work, higher number of conflicts.)

Although no research has recorded effects on working conditions, the 2009 national report entitled Cyprus, New Developments, Trends and In-depth Information on Selected Issues (mentioned in part 1.1) shows the proportions of unemployed drug users by gender, age and educational level in recent years.

According to this National Report2009, there has been a slight decrease in overall unemployment for drug users from 57.2% in 2006, to 43.7% in 2007, to 42.7% in 2008. At the same time, regular employment amongst drug users has gone from 25.2% in 2006 to 32.5% in 2007, to 31.1% in 2008. This suggests for the last three years there has been more unemployment than regular employment among drug users. Women drug users’ unemployment rate increased, from 76.8% in 2006 to 45.7% in 2007, to 55.1% in 2008 , while for men there has been a slight decrease in unemployment 54.2% in 2006, 43.4% in 2007, 41.0% in 2008.

Regarding educational attainment amongst unemployed drug users, as in years 2006, 2007, 2008, the majority of unemployed drug users had completed the primary level of education. The percentage of people in the general population workforce, whose highest level of educational attainment was below the level of the lyceum amounted to 27.9% in 2007, falling to 26.9% in 2008, but falling to 14.2% (14.8% in 2008) for the age group below 24 years. As for the previous year, these percentages in 2008 are much lower than the respective ones among unemployed drug users who only achieved the primary level of education (59.9% in 2007; 59.4% in 2008). On the one hand, this could be explicable at face-value as evidence that the percentage of drug users, who have only completed primary education, is higher than in the general population. On the other hand however, questions can also be raised as to the existing discrimination against drug users in the labour market, such problems being recurrently reported by drug users who are currently trying to re-enter the labour market, a matter also raised in the previous report, further investigation of which remains to be undertaken.

In the constructions, consumption of alcohol has a significant effect on work organisation, since tasks on the site are shared according to each worker’s abilities. Therefore people under the influence of alcohol, besides the fact that they are unproductive and uncooperative, burden their colleagues with their own tasks. This often creates tension and strife among colleagues and employers.

Block 3: Identify legislation and agreements at national level concerning alcohol/drugs use at the workplace, specifically those related to testing practices

3.1. Please identify and describe the main existing legislation and agreements concerning the prohibition/limitation of alcohol/drug use at work:

  • Is there any legislation or agreement specifically intended to prohibit or limit alcohol/drug use at work? Please describe:

  • Type of legislation / agreement (Government or parliament laws, agreements from social dialogue, from the Governments and social partners, from other organisations, etc.)

  • Contents, stipulations

  • Collectives affected

  • Is there any sectoral legislation or agreement with the same purpose? Please focus on the construction and transport sectors

According to the provisions of the 1996-2003 Health and Safety at Work Laws 89(I) and the regulations governing matters of health and safety at work, employers are obliged to ensure the safety and health of their employees; however, no specific reference is made to alcohol use. Nevertheless the Department of Labour Inspection has, in the framework of the above law, set out a detailed guide regarding employers’ and employees’ obligations as regards the use of alcohol.

Specifically, employers are obliged to:

  • adopt good practices as well as fair employment practices, and organise work so as to avoid the creation of unnecessary anxiety and physical or mental pressure.

  • take measures, e.g. provision of information and education, and improve the work environment with the objective of preventing problems related to the use of alcohol and other addictive substances.

  • cooperate with the competent services in the event that they suspect that activities involving the use of alcohol or other addictive substances are being carried out in the workplace under their control.

  • develop a system for management of the confidentiality of the information channelled to them regarding problems related to the use of alcohol and other addictive substances.

  • consult with their employees and employees’ representatives on the creation and implementation of directives and regulations relating to this matter.

  • approach and request the guidance and services of experts in order to develop and implement a policy regarding alcohol and addictive substances in workplaces.

Employees and their representatives are obliged to:

  • respect and enforce all the laws and regulations relating to the use of alcohol and other addictive substances in workplaces.

  • cooperate with employers in their efforts to prevent accidents caused by the harmful effects of the use of alcohol and other addictive substances.

  • cooperate with employers in order to maintain safe and healthy workplace conditions, make employers aware of conditions that encourage or lead to the use of alcohol and other addictive substances and recommend corrective measures.

  • cooperate with employers to develop and implement a policy on alcohol and other addictive substances in the workplace.

  • follow employers’ rules and instructions in relation to alcohol and other addictive substances in the workplace, and take an active part in the preparation of such rules and instructions through consultation and discussion, where required by the law and collective agreements.

  • cooperate and take part in programmes offered by employers in relation to the use of alcohol and other addictive substances.

  • help people experiencing problems related to the use of alcohol and other addictive substances in their reintegration efforts.

3.2. Specific focus on legislation / agreements regarding testing practices intended to control the use of alcohol/drugs at work. Please consider questions such us:

  • how are the tests regulated (agreements / legislation or are there guidelines)?

  • what type/forms of tests – testing methods and for what type of substances?

  • who can ask for tests, on who's initiative are tests initiated? for what purpose/reasons?

  • is the consent of the person to be tested needed?

  • is pre-employment testing (before work contract signing) allowed? can tests be included as a clause in work contracts?

  • by whom are the tests undertaken? are tests limited to safety sensitive positions or specific sectors (transport, etc.) or are they overall?

  • when, at what moment can tests be undertaken?

  • What are the necessary established pre-conditions for proceeding for a test?

  • what are the conditions/rules/procedure under which tests can be undertaken? what is the role of the labour doctor and labour inspectorate in testing?

  • To whom will the results be communicated and under what reporting form/

  • who has access to the results of the tests?

  • what can be the consequences of positive results on the work contractual relation?

Describe changes, evolution development of regulation / agreements on testing, drawing the attention to the review in light of the improvement of the testing methods

In Cyprus there is as yet no legislation or agreement on alcohol testing in the workplace. The only alcohol testing is administered to drivers by the Traffic Department of the Cyprus Police.

According to the report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (see 1.2) there is no specific legislation on workplace drug testing.

Employers have a general duty to ensure health and safety at work under the Safety and Health at work Law, 89(I)/1996, but no specific reference is made to this issue, except a general prohibition of the use of controlled substances at the workplace. There is no provision on how this is checked. Under this law, a company doctor may make certain tests in order only to ensure that the health of an employee is not affected by the use of or coming into contact with dangerous substances. In some areas of employment, certain medical tests have to be done to ensure that a person is fit for work, but this does not include a drug test. There are certain jobs, e.g. pilots, professional drivers, which require a periodical health examination, but, again, this does not include a drug test.

Block 4: Identify and describe national prevention programmes to combat the use of alcohol/drugs at the workplace, especially those based on agreements and cooperation of the social partners:

  • Organisation(s) responsible for these programmes

  • Drivers and motivations. Objectives

  • Target groups (sectors, specific occupations…)

  • Content and activities developed (campaigns for alcohol/drug free workplaces, information to workers, training, professional counselling and personal assistance, reintegration programmes…)

  • Tools (seminars, brochures, toolkits, guidelines, polls, tests…)

  • Inter-relation with other (health) programmes. Participation of health professionals

  • Are the prevention programmes integrated in the general working conditions/OSH training programmes and management systems?

  • Are the prevention programmes based on joint assessment of the social partners and defined in an agreed policy for the enterprises? Role of work councils and H/S committees.

  • Performance and outcomes of the programmes

  • Changes overtime

  • Assessment of the programmes. Point of view of the social partners.

The construction and transportation workers’ unions(mentioned in part 2.2) have stated that no agreements or prevention schemes have been signed on the use of alcohol and other substances in the workplace; as reported above, to date no serious problems have arisen in relation to this matter.

However, there are a number of programmes for preventing and dealing with the effects of alcohol use and use of narcotic substances; these programmes are offered by government services and non-governmental bodies.

Anti-drug services are divided into prevention on the one hand and therapy, social reintegration and harm reduction on the other. The state services providing universal, selective and indicated prevention programmes are the Cyprus Police (Αστυνομία Κύπρου), the Ministry of Education and Culture (Υπουργείο Παιδείας και πολιτισμού), the Educational Psychology Service (Υπηρεσίες Εκπαιδευτικής Ψυχολογίας), the Prometheus Prevention and Counselling Centre for Adolescents and Family (κέντρο πρόληψης και συμβουλευτικής εφήβων και οικογένειας) the primary prevention centre for addictive substance use “Mikri Arktos,” the Perseas Counselling Centre for Adolescents and Family, and the Youth Board of Cyprus (Οργανισμός Νεολαίας Κύπρου). The non-governmental organisations are the Cyprus Lions Quest Foundation, the “KENTHEA” Centre, and the ASPIS Anti-drug Association.

The government services providing therapy, reintegration and harm reduction are the Perseas Counselling Centre for Adolescents and Family, the “PROMETHEUS” Prevention and Counselling Centre for Adolescents and Family, the “TOXOTIS” and “PYXIDA” Counselling Stations, the “THEMEA” therapy unit for people addicted to alcohol, the “ANOSI” Detoxification Unit, the “STOCHOS” Drop-in Centre, the “GEFYRA” Substitution Programme, the Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital, and the “SOSIVIO” Substitution Programme. The non-governmental organisations providing services of a similar nature are the “AGIA SKEPI” Counselling Station and Therapeutic Community, the “KENTHEA” Prevention and Counselling Centre, the “TOLMI” Open Therapeutic Community for Addicted Persons, and the “MESOGEIOS” Detoxification and Therapy Programme.

All the above, apart from the TOXOTIS and THEMEA programmes, which involve detoxification from alcohol and other legal substances, involve drugs and operate under the coordination and responsibility of the Cyprus Anti-drugs Council.

The target groups of the detoxification units are adult addicted persons during the initial and most crucial stage of their efforts to liberate themselves from the use of addictive substances. The counselling stations provide services to adolescents, families of users and anyone who desires them.

As regards campaigns involving substance use in workplaces, the Department of Labour Inspection (Τμήμα Επιθεώρησης Εργασίας) has issued an informative brochure, which however does not indicate that any substantial problem exists in Cyprus regarding the use of substances during working hours. Apart from this, the Ministry of Health (Υπουργείο Υγείας) announced a national action plan for the prevention of the spread of narcotic substances; basic areas of the plan are reduction of demand and supply, provision of detoxification programmes and social reintegration of users. The Cyprus Anti-drug Council also adopted a special programme for the 2007-2013 period entitled Drug Prevention and Relevant Information, within the general Fundamental Rights and Justice programme. This programme has set the objectives of promoting international actions, the involvement of civil society in the implementation and development of the European Strategy on Drugs and the European action plans, as well as the monitoring of the implementation and evaluation of the specific actions included in the 2005-2008 and 2009-2012 action plans.

Until now none of the above-mentioned programmes has been included in safety and health training programmes, and nothing has been planned for the immediate future in this regard. According to a representative/psychologist from a detoxification centre, most detoxification programmes are serving an ever greater number of addicted persons, and their success depends mainly on the will of the individuals themselves to join programmes and overcome their addictions. In addition, the biggest problem they face is their reintegration in the labour market since they do not receive sufficient training before they are employed.

Commentary

As the above data show, in Cyprus the use of narcotic substances and the consumption of alcohol in the workplace do not appear to be of particular concern to the social partners, since this phenomenon is not encountered to a worrying extent. In general, use of alcohol during working hours or during breaks is not seen with any great frequency. Some cases of consumption of alcohol have been noted in the construction industry, mainly by European citizens (Poles and Romanians), a phenomenon which is first of all combated by the employers themselves and secondarily by the trade union organisations. The dangers that arise and workplace accidents in particular do not cause any concern to the Department of Labour Inspection, since the cases noted are very few. As regards the use of narcotic substances in the workplace, a knowledge gap has been observed, since there are no data on their use and effects. Worth noting is the fact that in Cyprus there is still no legislation or agreement in effect with regard to alcohol testing in the workplace, nor does this appear on the agenda for discussion.

Reference List:

  • “Cyprus, new developments, Trends and In-depth Information on Selected issues, 2008 ” National Report of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, EMCDDA published in 2009 by the Reitox National Focal Point,

  • “General Population Survey for Smoking, Alcohol and other Psychoactive Substances, 2010”, published by the Cyprus Anti-drugs Council (Αντιναρκωτικό Συμβούλιο Κύπρου)

  • “Managing issues relating to the use of alcohol and other addictive substances in the workplace, 2010”, Department of Labour Inspection.

  • National Strategy on Drugs 2009-2012, developed by Cyprus Anti-drugs Council (CAC).

  • Legal status of Drug testing in the workplace, a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)

  • Legal approaches to drugs and driving, a report by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA),

  • 1996-2003 Health and Safety at Work Laws 89(I)

Interviews by :

Polina Stavrou, Cyprus Labour Institute INEK-PEO

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