Employers have a duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of employees. If an employer knowingly allows an employee under the influence of alcohol or drugs to continue working, and this places the employee and/or others at risk, the employer could be prosecuted. Furthermore, legislation requires that drivers of road vehicles must not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving, attempting to drive or when they are in charge of a vehicle.
In the UK, it has been estimated that up to 14.8 million working days are lost each year as a result of alcohol-related absence. It is important that employers regulate the use of alcohol and drugs in the workplace because failure to do so can lead to:
• poor performance and reduced productivity;
• lateness and absenteeism;
• accidents and therefore health and safety concerns;
• low morale and poor employee relations; and
• damage to the company’s reputation and customer relations.
It is therefore essential that employers have policies and procedures to deal with such problems. What’s more, because the topic touches on so many legal issues, such as privacy, conduct, performance, and health and safety, it’s important to ensure any policies or procedures are tailored to fit with the working environment.