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Alcohol misuse

Current legal base & any legal developments

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, section 2

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

You should also be aware of duties under the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Transport and Works Act 1992. Drivers of road vehicles must not be under the influence of alcohol while driving, attempting to drive or when they are in charge of a vehicle. Certain rail, tram and other guided transport system workers must not be unfit through drink while working on the system. The operator of such a system must exercise all due diligence to avoid those workers being unfit.

Key messages

While for many people, drinking alcohol is a positive part of life and does not cause any problems, the misuse of alcohol can lead to reduced productivity, taking time off work, and accidents at work. Employers should adopt an alcohol policy, in consultation with their staff. This should include matters such as:

  1. how the organisation expects employees to limit their drinking;
  2. how problem drinking will be recognised and help offered; and
  3. at what point and in what circumstances you will treat an employee's drinking as a matter for discipline rather than as a health problem.

Some employers have decided to adopt alcohol screening as part of their alcohol policy. If you think you want to do the same, think very carefully about what you want screening to do, and what you will do with the information it generates. Screening by itself will never be the complete answer to problems caused by alcohol misuse.

Updated 2017-09-21