Drugs and Alcohol

by Ian Robinson


The development of a policy is just the first stage. As already stated, a policy that is simply gathering dust on the shelf in the HR manager’s office will be totally ineffective.

All line managers must be trained so that they have a clear understanding of the policy, its aims and objectives, and how it should be implemented. Managers’ training should also include how to identify potential issues at an early stage and how to tackle the problem, including the process to follow. The legal implications of handling drugs should also be included in this training

Training should not be restricted to line managers. To make the policy completely effective, all staff must be made aware of the policy, understanding how it affects them and their responsibilities.


A local council was recently required to compensate an employee who was considered by a tribunal to have been unfairly dismissed because he was unaware of the organisation’s drugs and alcohol policy, even though he was dismissed on the second occasion of turning up to work drunk.

Staff training should also include basic drugs and alcohol awareness education. This will not only enable them to make informed choices about their own drug and alcohol use, but will also assist employees who are parents to deal with related issues in the home with their children.

Benefits of training

A good training programme will ensure that the organisation reaps the benefits of having an effective drugs and alcohol policy:

  • Mangers will be in a position to identify problems at an early stage, when intervention is more likely to be successful, leading to reduced absenteeism
  • Managers will be equipped to tackle the issues in the correct manner, leading to a reduction in disputed disciplinary proceedings and industrial tribunals
  • All staff will have a raised awareness of how drugs and alcohol can impact on their performance and will therefore be able to make informed choices, which will lead to increased productivity and reduced absenteeism
  • There will be a decrease in staff turnover, leading to a reduction in the associated costs (recruitment and training).