1. The aims of this policy is to:
promote greater awareness of how alcohol and drugs dependency can be prevented;
encourage and support self-referral or intervention at an early stage of dependency;
manage dependency so that there is an efficient and supportive working environment;
meet the School's legal obligation to discharge its duty of care to its employees and to others on the School's premises;
comply with the School's legal obligations in general.
The policy shall apply to all staff, regardless of seniority. It shall not apply to students.
2. Whilst there is no specific regulation relating to alcohol or substance use or misuse at the workplace, alcohol and substance use or misuse would come within the scope of the duties placed on employers and employees by the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety Regulations.
3. Section 2 (1) of The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states : “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees”.:
4. Section 3 & 4 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places duties on employers to conduct their undertaking in such a way to ensure as far as is reasonably practicable that those not in their employment who are affected thereby are not exposed to risk to their health and safely.
5. Section 7 & 8 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places duties on employees to take reasonable care for the health and safety of both themselves and others who may be affected by their acts or omissions, to co-operate with their employer to enable them to comply with their legal obligations and not to intentionally or recklessly interfere or misuse anything provided in the interests of health and safety.
6. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 as amended, employers are required to assess the risks to health and safety to which their employees are exposed while at work. The risk assessment includes the capability of employees to safely undertake tasks required of them. Knowingly allowing an employee under the influence of alcohol or substance misuse to continue working constitutes a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act. .A Breach of health and safety legislation is deemed to be a criminal offence.
7. The School as employer also owes a Common Law duty of care to its employees and others affected by its work activities, and could be held to be negligent, where the School knowingly allows an employee who is under the influence of alcohol or substances to remain at work and someone is injured as a result of the employee’s actions whilst they are under the influence of alcohol or substances.
8. It is an implied term in all contracts of employment that the employer will take reasonable care for an employee’s health and safety.
9. While it is expressly provided that dependency on alcohol or any other substance does not, of itself, amount to a disability for the purposes of the Equalities Act 2010, a condition caused by such addiction or dependency may be such a disability. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a disabled person and employers may be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments to prevent disabled persons from being at a substantial disadvantage.
The World Health Organisations European Charter on Alcohol
10. The World Health Organisation's European Charter on Alcohol, which has been signed by all Member States of the European Union including the UK, includes the following statement:
(There should be promotion of) working environments protected from accidents and violence and other negative consequences of alcohol consumption.
Impact of alcohol and drugs on an organisation
11. Alcohol-related and drug-related problems can:
jeopardise health and safety;
lead to unacceptable conduct;
adversely affect working relationships;
cause absenteeism and sickness absence;
jeopardise an individual's career.
Staff counselling provision
12. Staff counselling is available to employees with alcohol or drugs problems and those working with them.
Responsibility of individuals
13. Alcohol should be consumed by employees on the School's working premises, which include Halls of Residence, only on the authority of the respective line manager. If consumption of alcohol in the School's bar facilities leads to unacceptable behaviour, then this can be dealt with by means of a complaint, even if this consumption takes place outside working hours, and the incident may necessitate the use of the School's disciplinary procedure.
14. Individuals who have an alcohol or drugs problem are advised to seek help from one or more of the following:
their own General Practitioner;
a specialist organisation (see Appendix A of the Policy for contact names and addresses).
15. There is no obligation on an individual with an alcohol or drug problem to inform their line manager. However, employees are strongly advised to do so, if the problem is affecting work performance or conduct. If this is not done, and then unsatisfactory performance or conduct occurs, it may lead to the immediate application of the appropriate disciplinary procedure.
16. Employees have a responsibility to notify their line manager in circumstances where prescribed medication may have an impact on their ability to perform their job in a safe manner.
Responsibility of Heads of Departments/Divisions and line managers
17. Heads of Departments/Divisions and managers are advised to read this policy together with the Guidance on managing pressure at work.
18. Heads of Departments/Divisions and managers need to be aware of their responsibility to discourage drink-related unacceptable conduct by ensuring that excessive consumption of alcohol does not occur at School-arranged informal or formal events.
19. Employment tribunals usually see work parties as still within the employment context, even if they are not held on the work premises. Therefore, behaviour at such parties should remain acceptable and care should be taken to prevent any negative impact on working relationships and the School's reputation with outside contacts. Conduct (e.g., sexual harassment) deemed unacceptable on the School's premises is also not acceptable elsewhere and may be addressed under the School's disciplinary procedures.
20. Monitoring of absence or accident rates is part of normal managerial responsibility. Line managers should be aware that increases in such rates might be linked to an alcohol or drug problem.
21. If an employee’s appearance or conduct deteriorates without any obvious reason, the line manager should talk about the change with the person. If the reasons for the decline are still unclear following such discussion, then, at the request of a line manager, the HR Partner may make an appointment with occupational health services for the employee. The line manager should advise the employee of the reason for the referral.
22. Admission of an alcohol or drugs problem may be difficult for an individual to make and such a disclosure should be treated as strictly confidential. However, if the line manager believes that the law has been broken at work or that serious harm may result to the individual, or another person, advice on action to be taken should be immediately sought from the HR Partner.
23. The line manager should offer reasonable support; this includes treating absence, for treatment and rehabilitation, as normal sickness and recognising that relapses may occur. Return to work after successful treatment should be to the same job.
24. If admission of an alcohol or drug problem is made but this is not linked to commitment to treatment, then it should be made clear that, if help is refused and there is under-performance or misconduct in the future, there is a possibility that the appropriate disciplinary procedure action may be invoked.
25. Where other employees are aware of a colleague’s alcohol or drugs problem, appropriate support should also be given to these people because the situation may increase the pressure on them or there may be feelings of resentment.
Responsibility of colleagues
26. An employee who is aware that a colleague, responsible for a safety-sensitive job, is under the influence of alcohol or drugs should inform their line manager. Concealment may not be in the best interest of either that colleague or others and could lead to action against the School.
27. If aware of working with a colleague with an alcohol or drugs problem, it may be helpful to read information or seek advice from specialist organisations (see Appendix A of the Policy for contact names and addresses).
Role of HR Partners
24. HR Partners are available to provide support to line managers and staff and it is advisable to seek appropriate advice at an early stage. Information given will be treated in strictest confidence, unless criminal acts have taken place or health and safety has been, or is likely to be, put seriously at risk. If it is judged that such information cannot remain in confidence, then the person who disclosed the information shall be advised that this is the case.