What to include in your Drug and Alcohol Policy

If you’re an employer and you haven’t drafted a clear cut workplace drug and alcohol policy just yet, don’t worry. You’re not alone, as countless other companies have yet to formally write down rules for their employees to follow as far as drugs and alcohol are concerned.

However, don’t take too long to come up with a drug and alcohol policy for the workplace. Every day counts, and you don’t want to be dealing with a drug and alcohol-related issue in the workplace without a policy in place.

Read on to find out what you should include in your drug and alcohol policy.

The purpose and objectives of the drug and alcohol policy

It should be made clear what the drug and alcohol policy is for. Generally, it’s all about ensuring the health and safety of everyone in the workplace, but you might also want to state how the policy can also help the company achieve its productivity and overall business goals.

Coverage of the drug and alcohol policy

Ideally, a drug and alcohol policy should cover all workers — from rank and file employees to top-tier management. Drug and alcohol abuse, after all, doesn’t make such distinctions.

Clear statement about confidentiality

A workplace drug and alcohol policy should clearly state that it recognises a worker’s right to confidentiality. The program is confidential, that any drug test results or penalties meted on an erring employee would be held in the strictest confidence.

A total ban on drug and alcohol use in the workplace

Your drug and alcohol policy should explicitly state that using drugs or drinking alcohol while on duty will never be tolerated. Many workplace accidents are caused by a worker who is impaired, which means they used drugs or alcohol before going to work or during the workday.

A provision for employee education

You can’t just put an entire drug and alcohol policy in writing and expect everyone to follow it just by providing them copies.

On top of making sure that everyone in the workplace has a copy, it would also be best for a drug and alcohol testing program to be implemented as well.

Such a program should have a provision for employee education, including arrangements for drug and alcohol awareness training that will make everything about the drug and alcohol policy crystal clear to everyone have been made.

The education program should also include arrangements for training employees, supervisors, and others how to spot signs of drug and alcohol abuse and impaired behaviour.

How a drug testing program will be implemented

If your drug and alcohol policy includes a program for on-site drug testing, it has to be up front about how it’s going to be conducted, or under what circumstances are they going to be done. For instance, people will need to know if the program includes random drug testing, or what drug testing method is going to be used.

Provision for disciplinary actions

Should there be employees who breach the drug and alcohol policy, it should be stated clearly what disciplinary actions will be taken against them. The kind of substance used, the severity of the offense, the degree of impairment, if proven, are all factors that need to be considered when coming up with disciplinary actions.

Provision for assisting chronic substance abusers

A drug and alcohol policy, however, should not be all about punishing those who breach it. They also need help, particularly those who are chronic substance abusers. Provisions for assisting them should also be included in the policy. In most cases, employers course this kind of assistance through Employee Assistance Programs, which are intended to help employees deal with personal issues—drug and alcohol abuse included—that could jeopardise their health, well-being and job performance.

Learn more

Safework Health has developed and reviewed thousands of drug and alcohol policies for businesses in a range of industries and sectors across Australia.

Contact us today to learn more.

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