Alcohol and substance abuse policy
1.1 We are committed to ensuring your health, safety and welfare and will take all reasonable steps to reduce, if not eliminate, the risk of injuries or incidents occurring due to individuals suffering from the effects of alcohol or substance abuse.
1.2 This involves two approaches:
- Providing reasonable assistance to an employee with an alcohol or drug abuse problem who is willing to co-operate in treatment for that problem
- Balancing a more understanding attitude towards cases of dependency with the need to take disciplinary action against those who allow their alcohol or drug-related problems to persist with detrimental effects on their own and colleagues' work.
1.3 Where someone is addicted to drugs originally medically prescribed, we will comply with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010.
1.4 The specific objectives of the policy are to:
- Provide you with information on the effects of alcohol and drugs and an understanding of the likely symptoms of abuse
- Encourage and support self-referral or intervention at an early +stage of dependency
- Provide support during a period of treatment to help individuals to recover and to make an effective contribution at work
- Create a climate which encourages honesty and gives individuals and management
- Confidence to deal with an alcohol or drug abuse problem by following a clear procedure
- Ensure that you are not put at risk or adversely affected by an individual’s alcohol consumption or drug use
- Ensure that our efficiency and reputation is not undermined by an individual’s alcohol or drug-influenced behaviour
1.5 The consumption of drugs and alcohol affects an individual’s ability to control processes, operate machinery, drive or to handle dangerous substances. These are things many of you are required to do on a daily basis. Even if you would not normally consider your job activities to pose a risk to yourself or others, drug and alcohol use can have an adverse effect on your performance, alertness, concentration and behaviour. This policy therefore applies to everyone.
1.6 We prohibit the use of any illegal drugs. It is a criminal offence to be in possession of, use or distribute an illicit substance. If any such incidents take place on our premises, in our vehicles or at a work function, they will be regarded as serious, will be investigated, and may lead to disciplinary action and/or reporting to the Police.
1.7 We discourage all individuals from drinking any alcohol during normal working hours, except at special events e.g. to mark important milestones or achievements of individuals. In such circumstances, you are expected to use your judgement and act responsibly at all times. At no time should your alcohol consumption have an adverse effect on your performance or behaviour at work. Any infringement of these rules may result in appropriate disciplinary/punitive action.
2. Organisation and Responsibilities
As a Manager you should:
- Make yourself familiar with the policy and ensure that your staff are aware of and
- Understand it
- Be alert to possible alcohol or drug abuse in your team. The signs that might suggest that someone has a problem include a decline in work performance; a poor attendance record; unreliability; unexplained injuries and changes in behaviour such as irritability and lack of concentration
- Take an objective and non-judgmental approach when investigating or taking action on any potential or actual case of alcohol or drug abuse
If you are concerned about the performance, attendance or conduct of a member of your team and know or suspect that the cause is in any way alcohol or drug-related, you should initially discuss the matter with the individual at a private and confidential meeting as soon as possible. We understand that raising the subject may put you in a difficult or embarrassing position but believe that you should encourage that individual to seek assistance. You are not required to diagnose the existence of an alcohol or drug abuse problem, merely to assess whether such abuse is a possible factor. Should the meeting lead to the conclusion that an alcohol or drug abuse problem might exist, you should refer the matter to your Human Resources Manager. The individual may then be referred to an Occupational Health Adviser for medical assessment.
- Be familiar with the policy and ensure that your performance is not impaired as a consequence of alcohol or drug abuse
- Check with your doctor or pharmacist about the side-effects of any medications and advise your manager if you are using medicines which affect work performance
- Avoid covering up for or colluding with any colleague who has an alcohol or drug abuse problem
- Urge colleagues with an alcohol or drug abuse problem to seek help
- Seek help yourself if you have problems related to alcohol or drug abuse
- Advise management if you consider that a colleague's, contractor's, student’s or visitor’s alcohol or drug abuse may be endangering the safety of themselves or others
2.3 Human Resources Managers/Health and Safety Advisors
The following responsibilities will be shared accordingly:
- Offer support and guidance
- Provide details of external agencies
- Refer staff for assistance in appropriate cases
- Advise on the appropriateness or otherwise of recourse to the disciplinary procedure
- Ensure fairness and consistency of treatment across our organisation
- Conduct risk assessments where appropriate
- Monitor and maintain the policy
3.1 Individuals unfit for duty
If you are of the opinion that an individual is unfit for duty you should seek advice from Human Resources (HR) or an appropriate senior manager (when HR is not available). The Individual will then be interviewed in the presence of a third party and if confirmed, the individual will be informed that he/she must go off site as they are unfit for work. A safe method of travel home will be made available, including arranging a taxi where necessary. A written record will be kept of this interview. If possible, the individual’s manager should be involved in this process and appropriate follow up action will take place. In the case of contractors and visitors, we should also notify their own employer where applicable.
We will offer our staff help if they have an alcohol or drug abuse problem. If you have such a problem, help will depend upon the following:
- That you recognise that you are suffering from an alcohol or drug related problem and are prepared to co-operate fully in referral and treatment
- That our Occupational Health providers identify an alcohol or drug abuse problem
Under the above circumstances you will normally continue in your post or in some instances an alternative post during treatment. We will undertake, and regularly review, risk assessments to monitor and assess any hazards. Time off for treatment, agreed by Occupational Health, will be dealt with in accordance with our attendance management policy.
3.3 Removal of Assistance
If a member of our staff with an alcohol or drug abuse problem fails to co-operate in referral or treatment arrangements, no special assistance will be given and any failure in work performance and/or behaviour will be dealt with through the capability or disciplinary procedures as appropriate.
If the process of referral and treatment is completed but is not successful, and failure in work performance and/or behaviour occurs, this will also be dealt with through the capability or disciplinary procedures as appropriate.
3.4 Capability and Disciplinary issues
Our policy makes a distinction between occasional impairment due to inappropriate use of drugs and/or alcohol and dependency on them. Unless an employee admits to having a substance dependency and is prepared to co-operate fully in referral and treatment then any poor performance or behaviour at work will be dealt with through the usual procedures. If an employee admits to having a substance dependency when being dealt with under our Capability and Disciplinary procedures, they will be referred to our Occupational Health (OH) providers. The normal Capability and/or Disciplinary procedures will then apply.
However, If OH confirm that the individual has an alcohol or drug abuse problem and the individual agrees to treatment, this will be taken into consideration when determining the action to be taken. Each situation will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Where an action or incident occurs which is construed as gross misconduct, management has the discretion to waive this requirement and proceed with full disciplinary action.
3.5 Events and Conferences
We recognise that individuals may be offered alcohol as part of normal hospitality at appropriate times during an event or conference. If you are responsible for organising this kind of event and you are planning to offer alcohol, you must include the provision of alcohol in the risk assessment for the event noting any increase in risk. At such events the quantity of alcohol supplied will be reasonable for the numbers attending and soft drinks and water must be available
Your HR Manager, Occupational Health adviser and/or Health and Safety Adviser will have information on support available in your location.
All discussions with staff in connection with drugs or alcohol will be strictly confidential. While appropriate personnel records will be kept, it is accepted that any record of treatment will be the property of the person administrating that treatment.
3.8 Reviews and Audits
The implementation of this policy will be monitored through the Joint Health and Safety Committee.
This policy should be read in conjunction with:
Health and Safety Policy Statement
Health and Attendance Policy
Dignity and Diversity at Work Policy
If things go wrong - capability issues
If things go wrong - disciplinary issues
Last updated 09/11/10
Amendment 110 - November 2010