6. Support employees with a drug or alcohol problem

When you've assessed the risk and have a policy on drug or alcohol misuse (or abuse) in your workplace, make sure your employees know about the policy and the support you offer.

Training and awareness

You could increase awareness by including an explanation of the drug and alcohol misuse policy in your induction process for all new employees.

You could also brief managers and supervisors so they are clear about:

  • how to recognise the signs of drug or alcohol misuse
  • the organisation's rules on drug and alcohol misuse
  • what to do if they suspect an employee is misusing drugs or alcohol
  • what to do when an employee tells them about a drug or alcohol problem

Support for employees

Employees with a drug or alcohol problem may ask for help at work if they are sure their problems will be dealt with discreetly and confidentially. But also consider your own legal position if you are given evidence or information that suggests an employee's drug misuse has involved breaking the law at work.

Drug and alcohol dependence are recognised medical problems. Someone who is misusing drugs or alcohol has the same rights to confidentiality and support as they would if they had any other medical or psychological condition.

Encourage them to get help from their GP or a specialist drug or alcohol agency and refer them to your organisation's occupational health service (if you have one).

Consider allowing someone time off to get expert help. Often the cost of recruiting and training a new employee may be more than the cost of time off.

Think about whether drug and alcohol misuse in your workplace is treated as a disciplinary matter or a health concern. If you dismiss someone because of drug or alcohol misuse without trying to help them, an employment tribunal may find that you've dismissed them unfairly.

But, if their normal work is safety-critical you may need to temporarily move them to another job.

Health advice and information

If you don't have access to occupational health services, you can still support employees' health and wellbeing. You can make sure there is information at work about where they can go for advice and help if they're concerned about drug or alcohol misuse.

There are organisations that can help.

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Updated 2024-06-10