How To Prepare Your Drug & Alcohol Policy

11th October 2018

Drug and alcohol abuse has a direct effect on employee performance in the workplace, putting them at increased risk of accidents, recurring absences and decreased productivity. When an employee is under the influence, they are not only at risk to themselves but to their colleagues and business operations as a whole. A staggering 14% of factory workers admitted to drinking alcohol at lunchtime and proceeded to operate machinery in the afternoon. Furthermore, 5% of factory workers said they had used machinery after using drugs – don’t put your employees at risk! Make sure you have a strict drug and alcohol policy in place in your organisation. Take a look at what you should include in your policy to make sure you’re fully prepared and protected.

Policy Statement

When putting together your drug and alcohol policy, it is important to include a ‘Policy Statement’. This should be the first section within the policy and will address the company attitude towards drug and alcohol abuse, and briefly state the reasons for having such policy in place. It is also the section to address who the policy applies to i.e. employees working at all levels, volunteers and agency staff (if applicable). Here is also where you should address what company response will be taken to drug and alcohol abuse, this could include any disciplinary action.

Testing For Drugs or Alcohol

The next section to include in your policy should be around ‘Testing For Drugs or Alcohol’, which should detail the circumstances for testing. This may include (but is not limited to):

  • Staff suspected to be under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Job applicants – this is especially important in a distribution, storage or warehousing setting where various machinery and vehicles will be operated within an employee’s job role.
  • Post accident – if the employee has been involved in a serious incident or accident at work.
  • Random drug testing – This can be used in order to retain a drug-free workplace, however, employees should be forewarned about this and told, for example, that they have a 1 in 4 chance of being selected.

Furthermore, this section should detail what the consequences of testing refusal will be for the employee, whether this is a particular disciplinary action or dismissal in some cases.

Procedure For Testing

The third section of your company Drug & Alcohol policy is to detail the procedure for testing, which could include breath testing or urine samples. You should also look to include whether this testing is to be carried out on site or using an external testing supplier’s premises. Following on from this, include the procedure that follows the testing – this could be a temporary suspension until test results are gathered. The final stage to detail here is the results of the test, which will either be ‘negative’ or ‘requires further analysis’. In the case that the sample requires further analysis, further testing will be carried out and the final result may not be available for several weeks.

Suspicion Of Substance Abuse

It is important to include a section in the policy that outlines the protocol an employee should follow if they suspect someone of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Here, include who that employee should report to (whether that is their line manager or managing director for example). Naturally, this will depend on the roles/responsibility of the employee and the size of the business, so your policy should be adjusted to accommodate this. You might want to include a point here on how to notice substance abuse, such as noticeable shifts in behaviour.

Company Culture

Company culture isn’t necessarily a section to include in your Drug & Alcohol policy, however, it is something to have in mind throughout the creation process. The policy should be centred around the way your business operates in terms of day-to-day operations and roles and responsibilities in the workplace. Above all, making sure each and every employee is made aware of the policy so that they can act in accordance with it. Having this policy in place works towards a much more proactive approach, and helps if you have to address any of these issues later down the line.

We’ve put together a drug and alcohol policy template which is free to download here. Our experienced team are here to make sure you stay compliant all workplace and governmental laws surrounding drug and alcohol testing. If you would like more information or help with drug and alcohol testing and policies in your organisation contact us today.

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