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Alcohol & Substance Misuse

Substance misuse is defined as the habitual or intermittent use of alcohol or any drug or other substance which causes detriment to an individual’s health, social functioning or work performance. It can often impair safety of themselves or others and affect attendance, time keeping, efficiency or conduct. Misuse also includes the possession, use or supply of illegal drugs (controlled by the Misuses of Drugs Act, 1971).

We enforce a zero tolerance to alcohol consumption and substance misuse within the authority.

This policy applies to all of you, volunteers acting on our behalf, contractors, visitors, agency workers and members of public who are accessing or using premises owned or occupied by us.

Governing Bodies of all schools are encouraged to adopt this policy to include school social events, with a recommendation that schools may wish to develop appropriate wording to include pupils or signpost to the appropriate policy or guidelines for pupils. School management teams must ensure that a suitable agreement is adopted outside normal school hours when the facilities may be hired to third parties.

Residential and Respite Care Premises and Non-Residential Care Premises

Alcohol consumption and tobacco use will be permitted in adult residential care and respite homes and within flats and domiciliary areas of Sheltered Housing and Council Housing Premises and in social care establishments providing day care services to the elderly or vulnerable for the use of residents only, not employees or visitors.

The exemption for consumption of alcohol and tobacco was made in recognition that they are residential premises, and thereby the homes of smoking residents.

  1. Take employee to a private and confidential area to discuss concerns and to provide the employee with an opportunity to explain the background to the situation.
  2. Inform employee that they cannot continue with their substantive duties on that day and that they will be suspended from duty, pending medical assessment and consultation with Human Resources.
  3. Log relevant details of incident in employee’s personnel file i.e. date, time, signs, symptoms, behaviour, outcome and action taken.
  4. Ensure that the employee has access to an appropriate form of transport in order to travel home safely, and that arrangements will be made to ensure their own mode of transport will be transported home safely for them.
  5. If the employee refuses to accept an alternative mode of transport and enters their vehicle, call the Police on 999 immediately.
  6. Follow up in writing regarding the suspension and explain a formal meeting must be carried out in relation to the incident.
  7. This meeting should help to identify whether the employee may have a dependency issue and requires further support via referral to the Occupational Health Centre or through external support agencies or whether disciplinary action should be taken.
  8. Relevant actions are implemented following a medical assessment and the outcome of the investigation.
  9. Monitor and review at regular intervals.
  1. Take employee to a private and confidential area to discuss concerns and to provide the employee with an opportunity to explain the background to the situation.
  2. Establish whether the employee will need time away from the workplace or is able to continue with their duties on that day.
  3. Offer support where relevant via external support services (e.g. Dyfed Drug and Alcohol Service, DAN 24/7 - Guidance Note 4) and advise employee to seek advice from their GP. A referral to Occupational Health must be made with regards fitness to work and if there are any work performance issues. Confidentiality will be maintained by all parties concerned.
  4. Log relevant details of incident in employee’s personnel file i.e. date, time, signs, symptoms, behaviour, outcome and action taken.
  5. Where treatment is accepted, time off for external treatment is to be arranged as per the requirements of the Time off Policy.
  6. If there are any further concerns contact Occupational Health and HR for further advice.
  • Employees should be made aware of the likely consequences if they do not accept the offer of support under the policy.
  • Encourage employees to seek assistance and support if experiencing problems from alcohol and substance misuse.
  • Immediate disciplinary action for misuse or abuse would not normally be taken against employees who accept help from their employer, unless other matters of discipline are involved.
  • Where the use or misuse of alcohol and substances by an employee contributes to poor work performance or attendance, despite any support provided by the Occupational Health Centre or external agencies, the employee will be dealt with in accordance with our appropriate Policies/Procedures with advice from HR Officers (e.g. sickness absence, capability procedures etc.).
  • Employment may be terminated in cases of alcohol and substance misuse where the subsequent action taken leads to loss of qualification required to carry out the job e.g. professional registration, driving licence.
  • HR Policies should be referred to in conjunction with this Policy. In all cases where our disciplinary/sickness or capability procedure is used in relation with alcohol/substance misuse, the person concerned will be offered appropriate help at each stage.

Example where Disciplinary Action applies

Disciplinary action may arise as a direct or indirect consequence of alcohol or substance use for employees who:

  • Report for work under the influence of alcohol or substances.
  • Possess, use or sell alcohol or substances at work.
  • Misuse prescribed medicines at work.
  • Have consumed alcohol whilst in a safety critical role (e.g. being in charge of a vehicle, operating hazardous machinery or mobile plant, handling or using, including disposal, of any substance hazardous to health, working in, on or near water, supervising children and vulnerable adults).
  • Have been abusive to members of the public/service users as a consequence of alcohol use.
  • Have deliberately flouted legitimate instructions not to consume alcohol or substances at work.
  • Have issues of conduct arising from isolated incidences of alcoholic indulgence or substance use.

The above are some examples but this is not intended as an exhaustive list. If an employee is believed to be buying and selling substances, or in possession of unlawful substances during working time, the police will be notified by the Head of Service or delegated Officer.

Occupational Health 

The importance of employee confidentiality throughout the process of managing this policy cannot be over emphasised. Employees with a misuse or abuse problem should have no fears about seeking advice and help to affect a recovery. As a manager, you should give them assistance willingly and in complete confidence. Both Occupational Health and managers can signpost an employee to the substance misuse services below for advice and guidance.

The confidential nature of any records or correspondence is subject to the statutory protection of the Data Protection Act 1998, the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988, the Access to Medical Records Act 1990 and the Access to Health Records Act 1990.

Request an Occupational Health e-referral

Equality Act 2010

Addiction to, or dependency on, alcohol or any other substance is specifically excluded from the scope of the Act unless the addiction was originally the result of the administration of medically prescribed substances or other medical treatment. Nevertheless, employees with impairments that are the result of an addiction, for example, liver damage caused by alcohol, will still be covered by the Act.

Therefore, employees who have a recognised alcohol or other related disease may be considered to be disabled under the Act. If that is the case the Council’s policy on disability will apply and managers should seek advice from their equal opportunities or Human Resources officer before proceeding with any reasonable adjustments.

  • Over 18’s:  Call the Substance Misuse Team on: 01554 744343 or 01554 705710
  • Under 18’s: Call Choices on: 01554 755779 or text: 07896 248911

They will be able to offer you confidential advice on the telephone and an appointment with a worker if you wish to discuss your problems and get you the help you need.

There are lots of online resources which give advice and information about alcohol, including some self-help resources. Here are some useful places to look:


Page updated: 29/06/2022 16:13:43