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Lionel Robbins Building (5th Floor)
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London WC2A 2HD

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Tuesday: 9.30 - 5.30
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Procedure for managing unacceptable conduct or unsatisfactory performance at work related to alcohol or drugs consumption.


1. Members of staff with alcohol or drugs problems have the same employment rights as members of staff with other health-related problems.

2. The policy and procedures therefore distinguish between:

  • inappropriate use, not dependency-related, that leads to unacceptable conduct (i.e., misconduct);
  • known dependency that leads to under-performance;

with recognition that dependency can result in unacceptable conduct.

3. When deciding whether or not the disciplinary procedure should be used, there should not be a distinction between whether the dependency is on alcohol or drugs.

Unacceptable conduct not dependency related

4. Unacceptable behaviour that is linked to inappropriate use, but not dependency-related, will usually trigger the use of the disciplinary procedure and, if deemed to be gross misconduct, may result in dismissal. The contractual disciplinary procedure shall be followed as normal. Suspension on full pay is advisable if an employee reports for work and is perceived to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

5. Any mitigating factor, such as an unblemished work record, exceptional work demands, or ill health shall be taken into account at disciplinary hearings.

6. Suspicion of possession, using, selling or supplying Class A or B drugs on the School premises should be reported by the person with that belief to one of the following officers of the School: The Director, one of the Deputy Directors, The Secretary, or the Director, Human Resources. The officer receiving such a report shall pass this on to the police.

7. The person who is the subject of any such report shall be suspended on full pay. Whilst normal disciplinary procedures may be invoked, this process and any subsequent outcome will be completely independent of any police investigation or subsequent charge.

8. If, subsequent to dismissal and any appeal, it transpires that another person or persons arranged false evidence to lead to incrimination, then re-employment shall be sympathetically considered. If reemployment is within twelve months of dismissal, then the School shall recognise continuous service and meet the appropriate occupational pension contributions.

Unsatisfactory performance at work

9. Where either an employee has voluntarily acknowledged, or a manager suspects, a dependency that has led to under-performance, this will be seen as a health problem in the first instance. A medical assessment with an occupational health doctor external to the School may be requested by an employee, or the respective manager after discussion with the employee, and arranged by their HR Partner. The assessment shall provide information on:

  • the degree of any dependency;
  • any rehabilitation treatment started or planned;
  • the amount of time-off needed in the future for residential treatment, if this is appropriate;
  • whether or not a job transfer is advisable on a temporary basis.

Before this assessment, the HR Partner must be advised by the respective manager of any safety-critical or health and safety management responsibilities that are normally part of the employees job.

10. The School shall give as much support as is reasonably possible to employees who acknowledge that they have an alcohol or drug problem and are committed to both successfully manage the dependency and return to the previous work performance. Time-off for relevant treatment shall be allowed under the appropriate Sickness Absence Regulations. If necessary, further specialist medical advice shall be sought through an occupational health doctor external to the School.

11. If, after treatment, a degree of dependency continues beyond a reasonable time-scale, normally six months, agreed with the employee and there is a continuation of unsatisfactory performance, or if there is a relapse, the School shall consider supporting further treatment, or ill-health retirement, before it invokes the incapacity procedure. The impact on the employees colleagues shall also be taken into consideration before any decision is made.

12. An employee who acknowledges an alcohol or drug problem but expressly confirms to the manager or their HR Partner that treatment will not be sought, shall be advised that lack of commitment to treatment and further unacceptable conduct are likely to mean that the disciplinary procedure will apply. Such advice shall be given in writing to the employee.

13. Employees with an alcohol or drug problem, who do not acknowledge this reliance, may expect the appropriate disciplinary procedure to be applied in the event of misconduct or under-performance. The alcohol or drug problem should be acknowledged to one of the following people: the immediate manager; an occupational health doctor external to the School; their HR Partner; or a trade union representative.

14. The guidance given above incorporates the advice given in the Health and Safety Executives Guidance Note The Problem Drinker and Work, which recommends that employers have a policy of encouraging problem drinkers to seek help and treatment.

Unacceptable conduct linked to alcohol or drugs dependency

15. If, during a disciplinary hearing for unacceptable conduct, it becomes apparent that an alcohol or drugs problem is strongly linked to the alleged offence, the disciplinary procedure may be suspended and an offer made of referral for assessment and advice on treatment. If this offer is declined, then the disciplinary procedure shall continue as normal.

Deferred dismissal

16. As an alternative to dismissal, deferred dismissal can be considered at the end of the disciplinary hearing as a final opportunity for the employee to seek treatment. The expiry date fixed for a deferred dismissal shall take account of medical advice and shall be held sufficiently in advance to allow enough time to show response to treatment.

17. If the employee refuses this option or fails to make sufficient progress, then the decision to dismiss shall occur on the expiry of the fixed period. If the option to seek treatment is refused by the employee, then the disciplinary procedures shall apply in the normal way.



1 Class A includes ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, LSD, mescaline, methadone, morphine, opium and injectable forms of Class B drugs. Class B includes oral preparations of amphetamines, barbiturates, , codeine and methaqualone (i.e. Mandrax).


2 Dependency is defined as drinking or drug taking which interferes with work capability and conduct to a noticeable extent.