What should be in my employer's drugs or alcohol policy?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises that employers should adopt a drugs and alcohol policy in consultation with staff. A policy should include information on how the organisation expects staff to limit their drinking, how problem drinking will be recognised and what help will be offered, and the circumstances where a worker's drinking would be treated as a disciplinary matter rather than a health problem.

The HSE’s model policy on drug misuse contains:

  • a statement of the policy's aims, and to whom it applies;
  • an indication of who is responsible for carrying out the policy;
  • a definition of drug misuse;
  • rules about how employees are expected to behave;
  • safeguards making it clear that absence for treatment and rehabilitation is covered by normal sickness absence, and recognition that relapses may occur;
  • assurance that employees with drug problems will be treated in confidence, subject to the law;
  • a description of support available to employees with drug problems, and a statement encouraging employees with drug problems to seek help voluntarily;
  • a commitment to providing all employees with general information about drugs and their impact on health and safety; and
  • details of the disciplinary procedures, for example, stating that possession/dealing will be automatically reported to the police.

Acas also provides guidance on what to include in a drug and alcohol policy along with sample policies, which you can find in its Health, Work and Wellbeing booklet (PDF, 603KB).

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.