Drug and Alcohol Policies

It’s that time of the year again, when the work year is coming to an end and the festivities start to kick off. End of year functions play a large role in business culture. With that being said it is important the employees understand and know how to enjoy themselves in a responsible manner. Work events are a part of our community and when alcohol is thrown into the mix, it can add a layer of complexities to the matter.

What to do ?

With this in mind, its important to have a clear policy for drugs and alcohol in the workplace. Whilst we know under applicable work health and safety laws, all employees have a duty of care to their own health and safety and that their behavior does not impact on others. Employers also need to have a stance on what they deem to be a safe work environment. This not only includes the ordinary location of the work, but extensions to the workplace ie. workplace functions or client functions.

Employers need to include this in the Drug and Alcohol policy. This policy is one of the most important policies a business can have. It needs to be clear and concise as to when the policy is in effect. Who has what responsibilities in the form of responsible service of alcohol. What is the process for managing someone under the influence of drugs and alcohol. What is the expected behavior and conduct when alcohol is available ? And what is the consequences of breaching the policy ? There are also further considerations to be had too.

Not only is it good to have this policy in place, but it is also important to ensure that all employees are aware of it and agree to it. This can be done several times or each year as a reminder of its importance. Or, simply before a social event, a reminder is sent out, so that employees are remaindered of their responsibilities and duty of care. That way both parties have full transparency around the situation that could play out.

Ignorance is not the key.

Whilst it know best intentions are set, that does not mean that misconduct can be avoided. In the case of the drug and alcohol policy being breeched, there needs to be swift action from the Employer. This is where it can be a little tricky, drinking alcohol at work and the law that surrounds it isn’t always clear. The Fair Work Commission has advised that disciplinary action can occur if there is likely to be reputation damage between the Employer and Employee. That the actions of the Employee adversely effect their role and position within the business and that the actions damages the employees actions, such as client reputation or public perception. This can sometimes be hard to measure. It’s also grey when it comes to things like after parties or the ending of the official work function. The blurred lines are in fact blurred.

Work functions are a great opportunity for employees to connect with one another and garner team spirit. By having a clear policy and guidelines, you can create a safe environment for your Employees. If you’d like help drafting one or reviewing your current one, please drop us an email [email protected]

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