Drug and Alcohol Policy

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

What is 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. It is drafted on the basis that the employer will be supportive to staff that have a dependency on drugs and alcohol, and it sets out the help available. It also covers the company’s procedure with regards to isolated disciplinary issues involving alcohol at work.

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 important that an employer has clear rules about staff that come to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and about drinking or taking drugs whilst at work. It is also important that employees are aware that one off incidents will be treated as disciplinary issues under the disciplinary procedure. 

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

A drug and alcohol policy would normally be stated to be non-contractual. This means that an employer can make changes to 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, enabling the employee to bring a claim against the employer.

What are the common pitfalls of a Drug and Alcohol Policy?

  1. Not having a Drug and Alcohol Policy
    Without a drug and alcohol policy, there may be a lack of clarity over expectations and requirements in relation to alcohol and drugs at work, which could 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.

    Normally an employer will want to make changes to its policies and procedures regularly, and in certain situations may not want to be tied to 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 and changes can be made. Otherwise, it will need to obtain staff agreement to any changes, however small.

    The drug and alcohol policy should therefore clearly state that it is not contractual i.e. that 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 changes frequently. Using a PocketLaw template, and regularly reviewing the finished policy, ensures that an employer remains legally compliant when changes to the law happen.

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