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Alcohol and drugs policy

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Use this model alcohol and drugs policy to promote a responsible attitude to drink and drugs and to offer assistance to employees who may need it.

Alcohol and drug problems are prevalent in society and are associated with a wide variety of costs for both employers and employees.

These costs include ill-health sickness absence, reduced work performance and accidents.

The consumption of alcohol and drugs has implications for health and safety at work since these substances impair co-ordination, judgement and decision making.

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How long to understand and implement this policy?
10 mins
Word count
How many words in this policy?
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What is an Alcohol and drugs policy?

An alcohol and drugs policy is a set of guidelines and procedures that an organisation puts in place to address issues related to drug and alcohol use in the workplace. The policy typically outlines the organisation's expectations for employee behaviour, and provides information on the consequences for violating the policy.

The purpose of an alcohol and drugs policy is to create a safe and healthy work environment for all employees, and to ensure that the organisation is in compliance with relevant laws and regulations related to drug and alcohol use. The policy may cover a range of issues, including:

  • The use, possession, or sale of illegal drugs or alcohol in the workplace
  • The use of prescription drugs or other medications that may impair job performance or safety
  • The consequences for employees who violate the policy, which may include disciplinary action or termination of employment
  • The resources available to employees who need help with substance abuse or addiction

The policy may also specify the responsibilities of managers and supervisors in enforcing the policy, and may provide training and education programs to help employees understand the importance of maintaining a drug- and alcohol-free workplace.

Overall, an alcohol and drugs policy is an important tool for promoting a safe and healthy work environment, and can help to prevent accidents, injuries, and other issues related to substance abuse in the workplace.

Best practice timescale for this to be issued
When should this policy be issued?
During onboarding / after changes / planned refresher
Issued by who, to whom
Who should issue this policy, and to whom?
Internally issued to appropriate recipients in your Company
Applicable legal jurisdictions
In which jurisdictions can this policy be used?
Great Britain & NI (United Kingdom), Worldwide

What legislation and best practice guidelines have been taken into account in the development of this template?

United Kingdom
  1. Health and Safety at Work Act 1974: This legislation places a general duty on employers to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their employees. An alcohol and drugs policy can help address health and safety risks associated with substance misuse in the workplace.

  2. Transport and Works Act 1992: This Act specifically applies to employees working in the transport industry, including drivers of trains, trams, and certain vehicles. It prohibits certain safety-critical workers from performing their duties while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  3. Misuse of Drugs Act 1971: This legislation prohibits the production, possession, supply, and possession with intent to supply of controlled drugs. An alcohol and drugs policy may reference this act in prohibiting the possession or use of illegal drugs in the workplace.

  4. Employment Rights Act 1996: This act includes provisions that allow employers to take disciplinary action, including dismissal, for reasons related to an employee's conduct, which may include substance misuse that affects their work performance or safety.

  5. Equality Act 2010: While not directly related to alcohol and drugs policies, this Act requires employers to make reasonable adjustments for employees with disabilities, which may include offering support or treatment for substance misuse issues.

  6. Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA): The DPA governs the processing and handling of sensitive personal data, including information about an employee's health or substance misuse. An alcohol and drugs policy should comply with data protection principles when handling such data.

  7. Occupational Health and Safety Regulations: These regulations may include specific requirements or guidelines related to managing substance misuse in specific industries or workplaces with safety-critical roles.

  8. Employment Contracts and Company Policies: Employers may include provisions related to alcohol and drugs within employment contracts or company policies to set clear expectations and standards for employees.

  9. Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992: This Act provides some protections for employees undergoing rehabilitation for substance misuse and prohibits dismissal solely for seeking or participating in rehabilitation programs.

Other territories

Consult your jurisdiction's employment legislation or labor laws to ensure compliance with the template. Review the language for local precision.

Alcohol and drugs Policy


Alcohol and drug misuse or abuse can be a serious problem within the workplace. Employees who drink excessively or take unlawful drugs are more likely to work inefficiently, be absent from work, have work accidents and endanger their colleagues. The Company has a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of all its employees.

However, the Company recognises that, for a number of reasons, employees could develop alcohol or drug related problems. In relation to drugs, these rules apply to those that are unlawful under the criminal law and not to prescribed medication.

These rules aim to promote a responsible attitude to drink and drugs and to offer assistance to employees who may need it.


This policy is applicable to all employees of [company name].

General principles

Advice and counselling

It is the Company's intention to deal constructively and sympathetically with an employees alcohol or drug related problems, such as alcohol or drug dependency. When it is known that an employee has an alcohol or drug problem, [insert name of contact] will be able to provide advice and guidance on how to seek suitable treatment. The primary objective of any discussions will be to assist the employee with the problem in as compassionate and constructive a way as possible. Any discussions of the nature of an employees alcohol or drug problem and the record of any treatment will be strictly confidential unless the employee agrees otherwise.

If you have an alcohol or drug problem, you should seek appropriate help. If you have an alcohol or drug problem which affects your conduct or performance at work and you refuse the opportunity to receive help, the matter will be referred for action under the Company's disciplinary procedure as appropriate. Likewise, if after accepting counselling and assistance, and following review and evaluation, your conduct or work performance reverts to the problem level, the matter may also be dealt with through the disciplinary procedure.

Prohibition on alcohol an drug consumption in the workplace

No alcohol or drugs must be brought onto or consumed on Company premises at any time. Staff must never drink alcohol or take drugs if they are required to drive private or Company vehicles on Company business. Staff must also not drink alcohol or take drugs when they are on operational standby or on call.

Employees representing the Company at business/client functions or conferences or attending Company organised social events outside normal working hours are expected to be moderate if drinking alcohol and to take specific action to ensure they are well within the legal limits if they are driving. They are prohibited from taking drugs on these occasions.

Social drinking after normal working hours and away from the Company's premises is, of course, generally a personal matter and does not directly concern the Company. The Company's concern only arises when, because of the pattern or amount of drink involved, the employees attendance, work performance or conduct at work deteriorates.

A breach of these provisions is a disciplinary offence and will be dealt with in accordance with the Company's disciplinary procedure. Depending on the seriousness of the offence, it may amount to gross misconduct and could result in the employees summary dismissal.

Alcohol and drugs-related misconduct

Whilst these rules are aimed at assisting employees with alcohol or drug problems, action will nevertheless be taken under the Company's disciplinary procedure if misconduct takes place at work as a result of drinking or taking drugs, or if an employee is found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs whilst at work. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect work performance and, if an employee is found under the influence of alcohol whilst at work, there could be serious health and safety consequences. The same applies to being under the influence of drugs. Incapacity or misconduct caused by an excess of alcohol or drugs at work is a gross misconduct offence under the Company's disciplinary procedure and the employee is therefore liable to be summarily dismissed. This also applies to any employee believed to be buying or selling drugs or in possession of or taking drugs on the Company's premises.

The Company reserves the right in any of these circumstances to arrange for the employee to be escorted from the Company's premises immediately and sent home without pay for the rest of the day or shift.

Alcohol and drug testing

On the grounds of protecting health and safety and only where necessary to achieve a legitimate business aim, the Company reserves the right to carry out random alcohol and drug screening tests on those employees in the workplace whose activities and job duties have a significant impact on the health and safety of others. If an employee receives a positive test result, this will be viewed as a gross misconduct offence and renders the employee liable to summary dismissal in accordance with the Company's disciplinary procedure. Unreasonable refusal to submit to an alcohol or drug-screening test will also be dealt with through the disciplinary procedure.

This policy [does not] form[s] part of your terms and conditions of employment.

Version: [1.0]

Issue date: [date]

Author: [name, job title]

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Alcohol and drugs policy
alcohol and drugs policy