Alcohol and drug misuse affects performance, behaviour and relationships at work and at home. There is overwhelming evidence of links between alcohol misuse and social and psychological disturbances, medical problems, accidents and violence. The University has a duty and a desire to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of its entire staff and accordingly views the promotion of good health as an integral part of its employment policy.
This policy is designed primarily to:-
- - Explain the University's approach to alcohol and drug consumption and attendant problems at work
- - Raise awareness of the risks and prevent addiction
- - Safeguard staff from the hazards of such abuse
- - Ensure the early identification of problems
- - Provide advice and support to staff in overcoming their problems
The policy applies to all members of staff, regardless of contractual status.
The University's Position
The policy makes a distinction between patterns of alcohol or drug misuse which point to addiction, such as drinking or drug-taking to excess continually, regularly or in intense episodes, and, on the other hand, random instances of drug-taking or excessive drinking which affect work. The University regards alcohol and drug misuse of the first kind as first and foremost a health problem and its approach will be informed by this understanding. Other forms of drink and drug consumption which affect work will be treated as conduct or performance issues and dealt with according to the disciplinary rules and procedures of the University.
Whilst this policy is concerned principally with excessive use of alcohol (and drugs) leading to work-related problems, it also recognises that alcohol (which is a depressant) and other drugs, even when taken in moderation, can impair performance and behaviour at work. For these reasons it is the policy of the University that organisers of social events and functions should make non-alcoholic alternatives widely available, that these should be available in bars and other campus outlets and that managers should discourage staff from drinking alcohol during the working day.
In particular, the consumption of alcohol or drugs is to be avoided in any situation where, as a direct consequence, the safety at work of the individual or others is put at risk. Examples include: driving, use of dangerous or potentially dangerous work equipment, working at heights, handling loads, working with dangerous liquids or radioactive substances and other work requiring manual dexterity. This applies also to those using information systems that hold sensitive data and where error could damage the interests of the University or part of it.
Misuse Of Drugs
The University is obliged to comply with the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Under the Act it is an offence for anyone who occupies or is involved in the management of premises knowingly to allow certain activities to take place in those premises. Possession or supply of any controlled drugs is a criminal offence.
Misuse of alcohol and drug misuse can cause a number of problems at work. These can also act as signs or symptoms of the underlying cause: -
- - Accident and injury
- - Deterioration in general health
- - Absence from work or poor time-keeping
- - Effects on performance, such as poor judgement or decision-making; loss of concentration or of memory
- - Erratic or unacceptable behaviour
- - Deterioration of working relations
Some of these may be particularly obvious at certain points of the week, such as after lunchtime or Monday mornings. Other signs that can indicate substance misuse are the onset of financial difficulties, domestic difficulties, or a change in appearance.
Alcohol Concern identifies certain contributory factors that make some environments "high-risk". These include:
- - Availability of alcohol at work
- - Social pressures to drink
- - Stress
- - Freedom from supervision
People who are developing or already have a dependence on alcohol or drugs frequently hide the evidence and deny the existence of a problem. Concealment may stem partly from concern as to how the issue will be treated and its possible effect upon job security, future career or relationships with other staff. Identifying the symptoms in people and getting them to acknowledge their problem is the first step towards recovery. Staff who suspect that a colleague or member of their staff has a problem therefore should encourage them to seek help.
Awareness, Training and Support
An important element of the policy is the responsibility to inform and educate members of the community on substance -related issues. This is intended to help staff:-
- - To be better informed regarding the effects of substances and their misuse
- - To be aware of the help and support available both within and outside the University
- - To fulfil their legal, personal and social responsibilities
The University will provide training for "front-line" staff in recognising potential substance misuse situations and the action required of them. It will encourage individuals experiencing problems to seek help and will refer them to internal or external sources of help, as necessary. A list of sources of help is provided at the end of this document.
The University seeks to adopt a supportive and sympathetic approach to any member of staff who develops problems as a result of alcohol or drug use. Similarly Heads of Department and others with line management responsibility are encouraged to be alert to possible problems and to take a constructive approach if problems do emerge. Trade unions can also offer support to their members.
Absence from work due to treatment for alcohol problems will be treated as sick leave.
Confidential records held by staff giving support (nurses and counsellors) will be governed by their professional ethical guidelines. Consent will be sought before breaking confidentiality, except in certain very exceptional circumstances, such as risk of serious harm to oneself or to others. Non-confidential and generalised information will be used to assist in developing and improving preventative and remedial measures.
' Substance in this context includes: illegal drugs such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine, Ecstasy, amphetamine; controlled prescribed drugs, such as methadone, diamorphine, anabolic steroids; other prescription drugs such as diazepam, temazepam; other substances such as alcohol.
Procedure for dealing with Alcohol & Drug Misuse
The approach which the University adopts to instances of alcohol or drug misuse will be governed by whether or not there is an underlying addiction problem. Where there is such a problem, the University will offer support and help to the member of staff whilst ensuring that they understand the possible consequences at work of continued substance misuse.
A member of staff who considers that they have an alcohol or drug related problem is encouraged to seek confidential help and advice from one of the following sources:- the HR Department, the Counselling Service or their manager.
A line manager who believes that a member of staff has a problem related to drug or alcohol use should encourage the individual to seek help immediately and refer them via the HR Department for professional support.
Staff who seek help will be given support in finding and following a programme of treatment. This will include time off work where appropriate, under the sick leave scheme, to attend for treatment.
Where substance misuse has led to problems in performance or conduct, the HR Department will monitor the progress of treatment of the member of staff, seeking expert advice as necessary.
If a member of staff is unfit or unsuitable to resume the same job during or following treatment, the University will seek medical advice and will where appropriate, seek to find suitable alternative employment.
The misuse of alcohol or drugs does not exonerate an individual from the results of their actions or omissions or from disciplinary action, which may be related to conduct or to performance. The disciplinary procedure will be invoked in appropriate circumstances where substance abuse affects the workplace. Each case will be considered on its merits; as a general guide, disciplinary action is likely to be taken if the member of staff refuses to seek treatment recommended; fails to complete a course of treatment, fails to respond to a course of treatment; endangers the health or safety of others; where performance does not improve despite intervention; in certain cases of relapse. In some cases, medical retirement may be an option.
Other cases, for example random instances of misuse of alcohol or of drugs, which do not involve addiction, will be handled through normal disciplinary processes.
Members of staff are not obliged to work with someone who has consumed alcohol or drugs if they consider that by doing so they put themselves or others at risk; anyone in this position should immediately report their concerns to their line manager.
Individuals considered incapable of performing duties safely or competently due to consumption of alcohol or drugs should immediately be removed from duty and the HR Department informed.
Sources of help
The following may be approached on a confidential basis.
|University Counselling Service||92690|
|HR Department||92159, 92154|
|Alcoholics Information Service||01524 846106|
|Alcoholics Anonymous||01253 792632|
|Lancaster Drugs & Alcohol Team||01524 846106|
|Drugline||01524 66354 / 35933|
|(national helpline)||0800 776 600|
For further guidance and interpretation, please consult the HR Department.