Consumption of alcohol during working hours can be a major area of concern for employers for several reasons. It can increase absenteeism and sickness absence and can impact on safety and productivity at work. As such it can be a serious problem and as a business owner it is important to minimise the risks related to drinking at work. Rules relating to drinking at work should be clear in the disciplinary rules in the Employee Handbook.

As with alcohol consumption, drug and other substance (e.g. solvent) abuse can cost employers significantly through absenteeism, reduced productivity and potential risks to safety. Employers should adopt a substance abuse policy, which should be clear in the disciplinary rules in the Employee Handbook. There is clearly a difference between using over the counter drugs – which may nonetheless impede the performance of say, someone operating machinery – and the abuse of illegal substances.

Acas Guidelines: Getting your alcohol and drugs policy right

While employers are legally placed under a duty of care towards their employees to protect their health and wellbeing by the Health and Safety at Work Act, there is no single policy relating to alcohol and drugs that must be adhered to by law.

The Acas Alcohol and Drugs guidelines are a good reference point for any employer looking to establish a robust policy for their own organisational handbook. This may account not only for disciplinary action, but also for the provision of mental or social health services that are geared towards supporting the recovery of staff from alcohol and drug dependency.

Beyond this, we recommend getting in touch with our team of HR experts for further employment law advice that is tailored to the specific needs of your business.

For information about our Employee Handbook advice service, please visit our business service page.