Drug and Alcohol Policy Template & Guide

Published:

Feb 13, 2024

This Drug and Alcohol Policy sets out an employer’s policy about substance misuse and alcohol at work. This policy is suitable for a small to medium-sized company.

Benefits to a Drug & Alcohol Policy

A drug and alcohol policy brings with it many benefits to you. For instance:

✅ Reduces the risk of accidents and injuries by ensuring employees are not impaired by substances.

✅ Encourages healthier lifestyle choices, leading to better overall health for employees and enhanced productivity for the company.

✅ Reduces substance-related absenteeism and inefficiency, leading to higher productivity levels.

✅ Ensures your organisation complies with relevant laws and regulations, reducing legal risks.

✅ Establishes clear rules and expectations regarding substance use - aiding in conflict resolution and disciplinary actions.

Table of Contents

  • What is the Purpose of a Drug and Alcohol Policy?

  • Understanding the Legal Framework

  • Drug and Alcohol Policy Defining the Scope and Purpose

  • How Should a Drug & Alcohol Policy be Drafted?

  • Support and Assistance Section to the Policy

  • How to Implement a Drug & Alcohol Policy?

  • Drug & Alcohol Monitoring and Review Process

  • Ensure Confidentiality and Fairness at All Times

  • Need to know if You Have Covered Everything?

  • How is a Drug & Alcohol Policy Enforced?

  • Who Does A Drug & Alcohol Policy Apply To?

  • What Can Constitute a Violation of a Drug & Alcohol Policy?

  • What Are The Consequences of Violating A Drug & Alcohol Policy?

  • Should We Make All Employees Disclose Prescription Medication Use as part of the policy?

  • How Should the Company Handling Drug and Alcohol Testing Be Included in the Policy?

  • Can It Be Included What Happens if an Employee Refuses a Drug Test?

  • How Should Employee Confidentiality be Maintained Regarding This Policy?

  • How often is the policy reviewed and updated?

  • Should All Employees be Trained or Made Aware Of The Drug & Alcohol Policy?

  • What are the Common Pitfalls of a Drug and Alcohol Policy?

  • Related Legal Templates

  • Drug and Alcohol Policy Overall

  • Legal Templates

  • Ready to Create Your Drug & Alcohol Policy?

What is the Purpose of a Drug and Alcohol Policy?

A drug and alcohol policy sets out an employer’s policy regarding drugs and alcohol at work.

It also sets out the employer’s approach to staff that have a dependency on alcohol or drugs. 

Consequently, it is drafted on the basis that the employer will be supportive of staff that have a dependency on drugs and alcohol, and it sets out the help available. 

It also covers the company’s procedure for isolated disciplinary issues involving alcohol at work as well.

So, let's delve more into how these can benefit your organisation.

Why is a Drug and Alcohol Policy Important?

Employers have a statutory duty to protect the health and safety of their staff.

It is, therefore, essential that an employer has clear rules about staff who come to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol and about drinking or taking drugs whilst at work.

Employees must also be aware that one-off incidents will be treated as disciplinary issues under the disciplinary procedure. 

However, where staff have a substance misuse problem, it is also helpful for an employer to set out what support they will provide. 

Non Contractual

A drug and alcohol policy would generally be stated to be non-contractual. 

This means an employer can change the policy without the employee's agreement. 

It also means that if an employer does not follow the procedure to the letter, it will not amount to a breach of contract and will not enable the employee to bring a claim against the employer.

Understanding the Legal Framework

Regarding this legal template, knowing several vital areas in depth is essential. For instance, this can easily include:

Local Laws for Your Employees

Depending on where your employees are based, this can vary. For instance:

UK Laws Related to Your Drug and Alcohol Policies

In the UK, for instance, the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 requires employers to ensure the safety of all employees.

Under this act, it's your (the employer) duty to address workplace hazards - including those arising from drug and alcohol use. 

The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 also plays a role here that you should be aware of - by making the possession, use, and distribution of controlled substances illegal, impacting your workplace policies.

Furthermore, the Equality Act 2010 mandates that employers must not discriminate against employees with disabilities - which can include substance dependencies as well.

EU Laws Related to Drug and Alcohol Policies

For citizens residing in the European Union, some of the laws around this include prioritising the safety and health of workers, as outlined in the Framework Directive 89/391/EEC

While there's no specific EU-wide regulation for drug and alcohol use in the workplace, companies in member states are required to ensure high safety and health protection. 

Consequently, further regulations and laws may also vary across EU member states, which you must know.

US Laws Related to Drug and Alcohol Policies

In the United States, the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 requires Federal contractors - and grantees - to maintain drug-free workplaces. 

While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects workers from discrimination based on disabilities, which can include addiction - this protection does not extend to current illegal drug use.

Additionally, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines emphasise the importance of a safe working environment - which can be affected by drug and alcohol use. 

Then, you also need to factor in the state laws where your employees are also based, which can play a significant role when you come to draft this policy - as these alone can bring variations in drug testing and privacy protections.

Ensure the Policy is Legal Compliant

You should also ensure your policy's wording complies with relevant employment laws - particularly regarding discrimination, privacy, and disability rights.

Drug and Alcohol Policy Defining the Scope and Purpose

Your Drug and Alcohol Policy should be designed to encompass all your individuals within the workplace - including employees, contractors, and visitors; ensuring comprehensive coverage.

For instance, its primary objective is to uphold and enhance your workplace safety, health, and overall productivity.

By clearly setting out the expectations and guidelines concerning the use of drugs and alcohol, your policy should serve as a foundational framework to help prevent substance abuse-related incidents from occurring - and promote a responsible, safe, and productive working environment.

Consequently, this should focus on clear boundaries and the well-being of all personnel, showing that your company is committed to maintaining a secure and efficient workplace for all.

How Should a Drug & Alcohol Policy be Drafted?

When it comes to drafting the Drug and Alcohol Policy, it's vital to clearly define prohibited behaviours.

Behaviour at work can include, for instance:

  • The use

  • Possession

  • Sale of illegal drugs

  • Being under the influence 

  • Misuse of legal prescription medication 

The policy should also address prescription medication use, acknowledging its legality but emphasising the importance of managing its potential impact on work performance.


Testing Procedures Outlined

Testing procedures need to be clearly outlined as well within, specifying when and under what circumstances testing will occur - such as pre-employment, on a random basis - due to reasonable suspicion - or after accidents. 

The testing methods and maintaining confidentiality in the process should also be included and detailed.

Disciplinary actions

Finally, the policy must clearly state the disciplinary actions that will follow violations, ensuring they are fair, consistent, and in line with legal standards.

Support and Assistance Section to the Policy

This policy should include a Support and Assistance section as well that recognises the importance of providing help to those who may struggle with substance abuse. 

Any Employee Assistance Program should be highlighted as a critical resource, offering counselling and treatment options and emphasising the company’s preference for support over punitive measures where necessary.

Additionally, regular training and education sessions should be planned to help keep employees informed about the risks associated with drug and alcohol abuse and to clarify the details and intentions of the policy. 

These sessions can then serve as preventive measures, which help create a workplace culture that values health and responsible behaviour, allowing you to get high productivity from your employees.

How to Implement a Drug & Alcohol Policy?

To be able to effectively implement a Drug and Alcohol Policy is crucial for its success. 

This involves clear communication of the policy to all employees, possibly through various channels like email, meetings, or any printed employee handbooks. 

Therefore, you can ensure that employees have read and understood the policy, which is also essential and often achieved by having them acknowledge they have done so in writing, which could also be done electronically via an e-signature.

Manager Training

Furthermore, training for management and supervisors on this policy is necessary to equip them with the skills to identify potential substance abuse issues and how they should enforce the policy appropriately. 

This training should especially cover how to handle sensitive situations and the correct procedures to follow when policy violations are suspected.

Drug & Alcohol Monitoring and Review Process

Your Policy's Monitoring and Review section should ensure that it remains adequate and relevant as much as possible until the next time you plan to review it.

This can also involve regular reviews and updates of the policy to align it with any changes in laws and workplace dynamics. 

A vital aspect of this process is establishing a feedback mechanism, where employees can provide input about the policy’s effectiveness and any areas for improvement they believe could be made, for instance.

Ensure Confidentiality and Fairness at All Times

The Drug & Alcohol policy should show your commitment to confidentiality and also non-discrimination. This can also be a legal requirement in many jurisdictions as well.

As a result, it is critical to ensure that any information related to an individual’s drug and alcohol use is handled with the utmost privacy, respecting their rights and adhering to legal requirements. 

Still Determining if You Have Covered Everything?

If you are unsure if your policy is legally compliant with your jurisdiction and also for good practice, you should seek professional legal advice to ensure it is legally compliant with you.

How is a Drug & Alcohol Policy Enforced?

The enforcement of this policy is essential to its overall effectiveness and, in many jurisdictions, a legal requirement to do so as well.

This, for instance, requires its consistent application to all employees, ensuring fairness and impartiality in doing so.

Keeping strict documentation, involving detailed record-keeping of any incidents, tests conducted, and actions taken in response to policy violations, is also crucial to its success. 

Such documentation is not only necessary for legal compliance and potential audits, but also serves as a reference for handling future incidents as well.

Who Does A Drug & Alcohol Policy Apply To?

This type of policy applies to all your employees, contractors, and even visitors on company premises - or during work-related activities offsite.

What Can Constitute a Violation of a Drug & Alcohol Policy?

Violations of this Policy can easily include the use, possession, or just being under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol at work and the misuse of legal prescription medication as well.

What Are The Consequences of Violating A Drug & Alcohol Policy?

Consequences for violating this type of policy can depend on the severity of the violation, and they may include just disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Should We Make All Employees Disclose Prescription Medication Use as Part of the Policy?

No, employees should only disclose prescription drug use only if it may affect their ability to safely perform their job duties or put other employees or the company at harm by using them - such as, for instance, a medication that can affect the ability to drive or operate machinery, and this is something that is a requirement in their daily activities.

How Should the Company Handling Drug and Alcohol Testing Be Included in the Policy?

Yes, testing may be conducted in situations like pre-employment screening, random tests, reasonable suspicion, and post-accident investigations, and only in line with legal guidelines.

Consequently, this should be included where necessary.

Can It Be Included What Happens if an Employee Refuses a Drug Test?

As long as drug testing follows the local applicable employment laws, then the refusal to undergo a drug test may be treated as a policy violation and could result in disciplinary action, including potential termination.

If the laws in your area allow this type of testing, then it can be included.

How Should Employee Confidentiality be Maintained Regarding This Policy?

All information related to drug and alcohol use is handled with strict confidentiality - in accordance with applicable laws that you need to factor in for your employees.

Consequently, this should be outlined in the policy.

How Often Should the Policy Reviewed and Updated?

Your policies, in general, should be reviewed annually as part of best practices, but they may be updated more frequently as needed to reflect changes in any applicable laws or any changes to your workplace requirements that arise - as these are non-contractual policies.

Should All Employees be Trained or Made Aware Of The Drug & Alcohol Policy?

Yes, all employees need to receive training on the policy to ensure they understand their responsibilities and the company's expectations of them.

What are the Common Pitfalls of a Drug and Alcohol Policy?

Some common pitfalls to a drug and alcohol policy include, for instance:

1. Not Having a Drug and Alcohol Policy in the First Place

With a drug and alcohol policy, there may be clarity over expectations and requirements concerning alcohol and drugs at work. In turn, this could easily lead to disputes - and even claims that the employer has not complied with its health and safety obligations.

2. Having a Contractual Drug and Alcohol Policy

The employment contract contains the terms and conditions that govern an employee’s employment. Generally, changes cannot be made to it without the consent of both parties. 

As a result, usually, an employer will want to make changes to its policies and procedures regularly - and, in certain situations, may wish to avoid following them to the letter. 

For these reasons, it is usually advisable for the drug and alcohol policy to be non-contractual so that it does not form part of the employment contract, therefore allowing changes to be made.

Otherwise, it will need to obtain staff agreement to any changes, however small.

The drug and alcohol policy should clearly state that it is not contractual, i.e., it does not form part of the employment contract.

3. Including too much legalese and detail

The best policies are clear, concise and easy to navigate and understand. 

Policies that are long, unwieldy and full of jargon are unlikely to be used or understood.

4. Not keeping the Drug and Alcohol Policy up to date

Employment law and practice in the UK change frequently. Stay updated with legislation and regularly reviewing the finished policy ensures that as an employer, you will remain legally compliant when changes to the law happen.

Related Legal Templates

You may find the following policy templates, which are related to a Drug & Alcohol Policy of use to you:

  1. Comprehensive Whistleblowing Policy and Procedure Guide

  2. Health and Safety Policy Guide

  3. Termination Letter Template - How to write an Effective Employee Letter

  4. Creating a Concise Staff Handbook

  5. Employee Staff Handbook Creation - Long-Form version

  6. HR Employment Templates & HR Policy Templates

Drug and Alcohol Policy Overall

Creating a comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Policy requires a balance between enforcing rules and you offering support. 

It's not just about compliance and discipline; it's also about promoting a safe, healthy, and supportive work environment while keeping in line with legal requirements.

As a result, regular updates, training, and legal consultations are vital to maintaining an effective policy.

Disclaimer:
Please note: Pocketlaw is not a substitute for an attorney or law firm. So, should you have any legal questions on the content of this page, please get in touch with a qualified legal professional.

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