Knowledge & Training

Information taken from BITC – Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco toolkit

Know the law

Drugs, alcohol and tobacco policy at work is covered by numerous pieces of legislation, applicable and subject to enforcement at corporate and often individual levels. This service is based in England. Different legislation may apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is an employer’s responsibility to know the law.

Data Protection Act 1998

All health and medical information is sensitive personal data under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998. All information surrounding possible drug or alcohol misuse must be handled securely and confidentially. Employers will also need to be aware of and comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Bill.

Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

Sets out the duty of care of employers to employees in the workplace. Section 2 places a duty on employers to provide a safe place of work and competent employees. Failure to deal with an employee who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, who may constitute a risk to other employees, could leave an organisation open to prosecution.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Regulation 3 places a duty on the employer to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health and safety of employees and others affected by their undertaking. Common Law (the system of law based on judges’ decisions and custom rather than actual legislation) places a duty on the employer to take reasonable care of the health and safety of employees.

Training and education

Educate line managers and employees about the effects of alcohol and drugs on health, job performance, and work safety. Communicate the value your organisation places on the personal health of employees, their families, and their communities.

For Line managers and Supervisors

  • Line managers must be clear about company rules and what to do if they suspect an employee’s drinking or drug use is affecting their work. They should also be aware of the implications of not tackling alcohol or drug misuse, particularly where safety is an issue
  • Provide specialist training to manage conversations about substance misuse
  • Encourage managers to support and model healthy behaviours
  • Communicate the risks of substance misuse and the benefits of avoiding substance use
  • Communicate the risks of smoking and the benefits of quitting
  • Help employees understand risk factors associated with misuse and dependency, including mental ill-health, stress and unsustainable work pressure, unsocial working hours and repetitive work. This is particularly important in occupations where there is access to alcohol (for example, client entertaining) or working away from home
  • Provide materials on the risks associated with misusing alcohol, prescription drugs, and other drugs
  • Provide general health promotion information on topics such as stress management, healthier eating and fitness