Employee Alcohol and Substance Misuse
The College is committed to promoting the health and well-being of its members of staff and will ensure any members of staff with alcohol or substance dependency problems have the opportunity to obtain support and are treated sensitively. It treats equality of opportunity seriously and has an equality framework to ensure equality of opportunity. Implementation of the Alcohol and Substance Misuse policy must be clear and transparent and not subject to any unfair discriminatory practices by line managers.
This guidance has been designed to act as a point of reference. For further details please refer to the full policy which can be downloaded from this page's sidebar.
Substance Misuse – drinking alcohol, taking drugs or a substance, either intermittently or continuously, such that it adversely interferes with an individual’s health, work performance or conduct or affects the work performance and/or safety of themselves and others.
Substances – this term includes prescription medicines where the prescription medicines have not been prescribed for the person possessing or using them and/or such prescription medicines which are not taken in accordance with a physician’s direction.
Dependency – a compulsion to keep taking an intoxicating substance either to avoid effects of withdrawal (physical dependence) or to meet a need for stimulation or tranquillising effects or pleasure (psychological dependence).
Addiction – a state of periodic or chronic intoxication produced by the repeated intake of an intoxicating substance. This means that a dependency has developed to such an extent that it has serious detrimental effects on the user and often their family as well, and the individual has great difficulty discontinuing their use. The substance has taken over their life.
Guidance for staff
What are my responsibilities?
- You are responsible for ensuring your own behaviour and work performance remains appropriate whilst engaged in College activity and is not affected by alcohol consumption or substance misuse.
- If you suspect, or know, that you have an alcohol, or substance-related problem you should seek professional help at an early stage to avoid the problem becoming worse. You may also choose to confidentially refer yourself to the College’s Occupational Health.
- You should inform your line manager if you suspect that another member of staff is under the influence of an aforementioned substance whilst engaged in a College activity that could result in accident or danger to either the member of staff or other staff.
- You should familiarise yourself and comply with any Departmental/School/Institute/Division policy that prohibits consumption of alcohol or being under the influence of alcohol during working hours.
- You must not bring or use illegal substances on College premises under any circumstance.
- You should notify your line manager if you are taking any prescribed medication that could affect your ability to work safely.
What action can I expect my manager to take if they suspect that I have an alcohol / substance dependency issue?
- They may seek confidential advice from HR or Occupational Health prior to speaking with you.
- They may arrange a private 1-2-1 meeting with you.
- Discuss their concerns in a sensitive, non-judgemental way. Your line manager's concern is for your well-being and, where applicable, to determine what help and support can be given to support you through this.
- If your line manager suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol at work or your performance is acutely impaired through the consumption of alcohol or substances you will not be permitted to continue working that day due to incapacity and will be required to leave the College premises.
- With your safety in mind, your line manager will determine whether or not there is a requirement for you to be accompanied home.
- On your return to work your line manager will arrange to see you to discuss this with you.
Advice and Support is available from:
Your line manager
If you disclose to your line manager that you have a dependency /addiction they will be supportive and can refer you to Occupational Health with your consent and inform you about other organisations who can provide advice and support.
Your HR representative can provide advice and guidance on what support the College can offer.
College staff who are trained volunteers and on hand to provide confidential and positive assistance when you need information and guidance and support. Find out about the Staff Supporters.
Advice and support regarding your situation can be sought from Occupational Health. You can make a self-referral for an appointment with an OH Adviser. Should you decide to do this, your discussions with Occupational Health are confidential and cannot be shared with your line manager.
It is hoped that you would feel at ease disclosing your dependency/addiction to your line manager. With your consent, your line manager can refer you to Occupational Health.
Confidential Care – Employee Assistance Provider
The College’s independent Employee Assistance Provider can provide confidential assistance regarding alcohol /drug dependency (telephone: 0800 085 4764 or log into their website using the User ID: Imperial and Password: College) to access confidential advice and support.
Will I be subject to formal action?
The College will be as supportive as possible to all staff; however there may be occasions where the circumstances are such that the situation may be dealt with under the provisions of the Disciplinary Policy rather than under the Alcohol and Substance Misuse Policy. Should you not be willing to comply with suggested treatment or should the alcohol and/or substance misuse continue, you will be subject to the College’s Disciplinary Policy.
Guidance for managers
What are my responsibilities?
As the line manager you should seek advice from Human Resources if you suspect that a member of your staff may have an alcohol / substance misuse problem on how to support them with this issue. In addition, you are required:
- To ensure policy compliance
- To inform members of staff which roles have been designated as ‘dry roles’ within your section
- To ensure that members of staff achieve and maintain acceptable levels of conduct and performance
- Reinforce to members of staff the requirement for appropriate behaviour at College related social events
- Refer members of staff for assessment or help to Occupational Health where required following the member of staff consent
- Provide members of staff with support and adjustment to facilitate recovery as far as reasonably practical following advice from OH and HR.
What should I do if a member of staff presents for work but appears to be under the influence of alcohol/an unknown substance?
If you suspect that a member of staff is under the influence of alcohol or a substance, you should seek guidance from Human Resources.
It is your responsibility to discuss with the member of staff if their behaviour, performance or absence indicates a possible problem with alcohol/substance misuse. This should be done in a sensitive, non-judgemental way. Your main concern should be for the well-being of the member of staff and what help and support can be given to deal with this matter. You should prepare yourself for the fact that the member of staff may not acknowledge or admit that they have a problem.
The following steps can be followed when meeting with the member of staff to discuss the issue:
- Before the meeting, prepare a script of what you wish to discuss
- Find a private room to hold your discussion
- Be factual and provide specific examples of your concern
- If you can smell alcohol on the individual's breath, it may be appropriate for you to enquire if they have been drinking
- Depending on the circumstances, it may well be appropriate for you to ask if they have taken anything
- You should ask the individual concerned if they are alright and let them know that you have concerns over their well-being
- If you suspect that a member of staff is under the influence of alcohol at work or their performance is acutely impaired through the consumption of alcohol or substances you should send them home. With their safety in mind, you should decide whether or not there is a requirement for them to be accompanied home
- On their return to work you must arrange to see them to discuss the situation with them
Advice and Support is available from:
If you do suspect that there is an alcohol or substance misuse problem involving a member of your staff you should contact your HR representative to inform them of the situation.
Your HR representative will provide you with advice and guidance on how to manage the situation.
You can contact Occupational Health to obtain advice on managing a member of staff who may have alcohol dependency or substance addiction. If following a discussion with a member of staff they consent to seeing Occupational Heath, you can make a referral. Occupational Health can advise on fitness to work and help ensure that any underlying health issues, i.e. alcohol dependency or substance misuse which have an impact on a member of staff’s ability to carry out their work, are effectively managed.
The College’s independent Employee Assistance Provider can provide confidential support/advice on addictions/drug dependency (telephone: 0800 085 3805 or login on their website).
Is formal action required?
The College will be as supportive as possible to the individual; however there may be situations where the circumstances are such that the situation may be dealt with under the provisions of the Disciplinary policy rather than under the Alcohol and Substance Misuse Policy. Should the individual not be willing to comply with suggested treatment or should the alcohol and/or substance misuse continue, Human Resources will provide the necessary advice.
Organisations offering further advice and support
61 Great Dover Street
Tel. 020 7403 0888
Waterbridge House, Loman Street, E1 0EE
Tel. 020 7928 7377
PO Box 1
Tel. 020 7352 3001
Institute of Alcohol Studies
Alliance House, 12 Caxton Street, London, SW1H 0QS
Tel. 020 7222 5880