Legal highs – does your drugs policy need updating?
The Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 came into force on 26 May
2016, banning the production and supply of so-called 'legal
highs' (substances sold openly in shops and online which
imitate the psychoactive effects of illegal drugs, but are not
actually illegal to sell or consume themselves). Their legal status
means that individuals may not fully appreciate the effects of
Legal highs are largely substances which imitate the
psychoactive effects of illegal drugs when consumed, but are not
actually illegal to consume themselves. As they are currently
marketed as legal and sold openly in shops or online, many users
may not fully realise the effects they might have. As with illegal
drugs, they can have a range of effects on users and employers
should consider their impact on their employees and workplaces.
Since 26 May, an employee supplying, offering to supply, or
possessing with an intent to supply such a substance to a colleague
will also be committing a criminal offence (although simple
possession is not generally illegal). In addition, an employer who
fails to take reasonable steps to prevent such illegal supply
taking place on its premises may face a Premises Notice or Order
which could, at worst case, close down their premises for up to six
Employers should review their substance misuse policies to see
if they already refer to legal highs – it may be that their
use is already banned – and ensure any relevant health and
safety risk assessments cover the use of psychoactive substances
and amend them if required. Finally, disciplinary polices should
include the supply or attempted supply of legal highs, or being
under the influences of such psychoactive substances, as further
examples of gross misconduct.
European Council approves Trade Secrets Directive
The Trade Secrets Directive clarifies that nothing in the
Directive should be understood to offer any grounds for restricting
the mobility of employees. In particular, the Trade Secrets
Directive cannot be used to:
limit employees' use of information not constituting a
limit employees' use of the experience and skills they have
honestly acquired in the normal course of their employment;
impose any additional restrictions on employees in their
employment contracts other than in accordance with Union or
national law. Furthermore, liability for damage caused to employers
for acts of unlawful acquisition, use or disclosure of their trade
secrets by employees can be limited by Member States in
circumstances where the latter have acted without intent. More
details are available
Employee who took client details fined for data breach
A former employee of a waste management firm has been fined for
taking commercially sensitive client details with him when he left
his job to join a competitor.
According to the Information Commissioner's Office, the
documents included personal information including contact details,
purchase history and commercially sensitive information. He pleaded
guilty at Telford Magistrates' Court last month to unlawfully
obtaining data under section 55 of the Data Protection Act, and was
fined £300, a victim surcharge of £20 and £405.98
The case is a reminder that, in addition to any other legal
recourse an employer may have, the taking of client records that
include personal information to a new job without permission is a
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The Court of Appeal has held that where a contract of employment lacks a provision for when notice of termination takes effect, it is effective from when the employee personally takes delivery of the letter containing notice.
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