Employment Law – Alcohol, Smoking and Drugs considerations

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Employers have a legal duty to look after the health, safety and well-being of all of their employees. When faced with an employee who may be using drink or drugs, it can be difficult to decide whether to follow the disciplinary policy or capability policy. An effective alcohol, smoking and drug policy can help employers navigate this difficult issue.

A good drugs, alcohol and smoking policy should:

  • set out the purpose of the policy, including reducing health and safety risks and to whom the policy applies;
  • explain what the business will and will not allow and any rules on drinking alcohol, smoking and vaping;
  • recognise that drug and alcohol problems are treatable and state that the organisation will handle them in the same way as any other illness if appropriate;
  • emphasise the importance of early identification and treatment of substance misuse;
  • encourage employees to report any relevant concerns about their colleagues;
  • provide details of any help available;
  • explain the disciplinary and capability position including that:
  • disciplinary or capability proceedings may be suspended if drug or alcohol misuse is a factor, on condition that the employee undertakes treatment;
  • capability or disciplinary action may result if help or treatment is refused; and
  • dismissal may occur in some specified situations.
  • provide assurances of confidentiality, except when the business is obliged to report the use or supply of illegal drugs on the premises;
  • set out any drug or alcohol testing policy, give details of how and when testing will take place and explain the consequences of refusing to consent to testing.

For further information on drawing up effective office manuals and procedures at work or if you are faced with a problem employee then why not contact one of Alexander JLO’s expert Employment Lawyers and see what we can do for you?

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