Drugs and alcohol policy

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What's a drugs and alcohol policy, and when do you need it?

You should have one of these policies in place for your employees and workers.

‘Drugs’ under this policy means illegal drugs, ‘legal highs’, and the misuse of prescribed or over-the-counter medication that may affect a worker’s ability to carry out their duties fully and safely. The template is drafted to cover all employees, as well as self-employed contractors, workers and agency workers engaged by the relevant business.

The template policy makes clear that your business expects workers covered by its remit to arrive at work fit to carry out their jobs, and to be able to fully and safely perform their contracted duties without any limitations due to the use or after effects of alcohol or drugs. This requirement applies whether the worker is on premises from which the business is operated, or the worker is elsewhere, wherever that might be, if they are:

• acting on behalf of the business,• representing themselves as part of the company’s business; or• recognisable as someone working for or with the company’s business.

It highlights the expectation that anyone covered by this policy will seek medical help if they have a reliance on alcohol or unprescribed medication, or they think that they might have one, and they have failed to inform the business about it. And it also covers what happens where there is a breach of this policy by the worker, i.e. the business is entitled to take action against the worker under its relevant company policies (including, for example, Performance Improvement, Absence Management or Disciplinary policies) if the worker is:

• unable to properly perform their contracted duties, and/or• their performance and attendance are detrimentally impacted and/or• their actions damage business reputation

because they’ve been using drugs or alcohol.

Our experts recommend that you do not give this policy contractual status in any employment contract that you put in place, but that you do reference it in that contract, make clear that the employee is expected to comply with the policy and that you have the right to update or revise it, in your discretion and when you want to.

This template includes all the statutory requirements, as well as optional elements for you to consider.