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The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 comes into force

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While coffee, tobacco and alcohol are excluded the Act introduced a blanket ban on any “psychiatric substance” which is capable of producing a psychoactive effect in a person who consumes it; and is not an exempted substance.

A “psychoactive effect” involves the simulation or depression of a person’s nervous system affecting their mental functioning or emotional state. This covers a wide range of substances including prescribed medication which are also part of the list of exempt substances. If you have a drugs policy then you should update it to reflect this new Act.

If you don’t have a drugs policy then it’s important to consider putting one in place. Increasingly drug use is impacting on performance and conduct in the workplace so having an effective drugs policy in place is a necessity nowadays.

NAVEX Global’s 2016 EMEA and APAC Whistleblower Hotline Report Suggests Employee Participation is Key to Improving Compliance Report finds that increasing focus on employee participation in internal reporting hotlines is warranted given low usage rates

Anonymous reporting increased from 59 per cent to 65 per cent, highlighting the value of and need for trust building. Viewing hotlines as helplines and making reporting more accessible can build stronger compliance participation. Ethics and compliance software and services leader NAVEX Global® today released its 2016 EMEA & APAC Ethics and Compliance Whistleblower Hotline Benchmark Report, revealing a slight decline in whistleblowing hotline utilisation in 2015. The results suggest that boosting employee awareness, confidence and participation needs to be a key focus of successful internal reporting programmes. 

Only 0.2 per cent of all employees in the organisations reviewed made reports in 2015, a slight decline on the 0.3 per cent reporting in 2014. 65 per cent of reports were anonymous – an increase of 6 percentage points compared with the previous year – suggesting programmes would be aided by improving employee trust in their organisations’ compliance practices. “A key element to success for compliance programmes in the EMEA and APAC regions will clearly be facilitating employee participation and trust in the processes,” said Carrie Penman, Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Vice President, Advisory Services, NAVEX Global, who advises organisations globally on effective programmes. “In our on-the-ground experiences meeting with employees in EMEA and APAC, we have found that while the majority of employees are aware of their internal reporting systems, there are a variety of reasons why they do not use them. These may include cultural norms around violating ‘chain of command’ and a belief that they do not have the rank or authority to report anything to higher levels of the organisation.” 

EMEA and APAC organisations will want to consider how to break down any local or regional barriers as well as build employee trust and buy-in to ensure they have the opportunity to address concerns from employees before the news comes from a regulator instead. Based on the findings from this year’s benchmark report, NAVEX Global recommends organisations consider taking action in the following areas:

Evaluate hurdles standing in the way of higher report volumes: Research shows the primary reasons employees do not report include: lack of awareness of available reporting mechanisms; a belief that nothing will be done about their concern; and fear of reprisal.

Encourage employees to see a hotline as a resource for information, not just a channel for reporting: Increased awareness of the ability to use the hotline as a helpline can give employees permission to call when they need advice or assistance, not just to report an issue. Seeing the hotline as a resource can help increase the likelihood that employees will feel comfortable asking for help—and take preventative action to avoid misconduct.

Make it easy for employees to report when awareness of compliance issues is top-of-mind: Employees are more likely to report issues when they are reviewing their organisation’s policies or during compliance training. Organisations can make it easy for employees to report by incorporating instructions and mechanisms for reporting directly in policies, eLearning courses and following live training. 

In contrast with the EMEA and APAC report, NAVEX Global’s sister report, the 2016 Global Hotline Benchmark Report, which includes data from the U.S. as well as global data received via U.S. based systems, found a rise in reporting rates over the past five years, to 1.3 per cent, alongside a drop in anonymous reporting to below 60 percent. “The increase in the proportion of reports being filed anonymously in the EMEA and APAC regions could indicate a lack of trust in the system or fear of reprisal. We will be watching this data point next year to better understand whether this is a trend or an anomaly,” said Penman. “A higher level of anonymous reporting can also make it more difficult to investigate concerns. Organisations need to educate employees on their responsibility to stay engaged with an anonymous report by following up in the requested timeframes using the available processes in the reporting system that protects their identity.” 

This is the first EMEA and APAC-only Whistleblower Hotline Benchmark Report from NAVEX Global, which tracks anonymised data from ethics and compliance (“whistleblowing”) hotlines and incident management systems worldwide. This report provides data from both 2014 and 2015. The report analyses the effectiveness of reporting channels, employee support networks, and related training, which gives organisations a broad perspective on how their performance matches up to industry norms. “Ethics and compliance officers have many opportunities to leverage the data in their hotline and incident management systems internally to improve their compliance programmes as well as their organisational culture of ethics and respect,” said Penman. “But understanding how their organisation is performing against its peers is also critical and will help guide future decision-making and development of reporting programmes.”

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