Workplace policies on smoking, drugs and alcohol

Discipline, grievance and dismissal procedures


If an employee has a problem with drugs or alcohol abuse your first step should be to provide support or to help them find suitable support services. See counselling and support for drugs and alcohol misuse.

But being supportive isn't always enough. You have a clear responsibility to protect your employees' health and safety. If an employee's behaviour could place themselves or others at risk, you have a duty to intervene. You need to set rules and make sure they're upheld.

Disciplinary action

Sometimes the need for disciplinary action is clear. For example, the law doesn't allow you to let employees take illegal drugs at work. In the same way, drinking and driving at work is a clear case of misconduct that will have consequences.

In other cases, it can be more difficult to decide where to draw the line between offering support and taking disciplinary action. If you provide repeated help and support but an employee's substance misuse continues to cause problems at work, your business is likely to suffer if you don't take action. See discipline, grievance and dismissal procedures.

Providing clear guidelines

You must, by law, tell each employee about:

  • your disciplinary rules, which should include rules relating to smoking, drugs and alcohol at work
  • your disciplinary/dismissal and grievance procedure
  • the name of the person to whom they should appeal if they are unhappy about a disciplinary or dismissal decision, or to seek redress for a grievance

This information can be included in the employee's written statement or the written statement may refer the employee to a document where they can read it, eg in a staff handbook. All your employees must be clear about both the rules and the consequences of breaking them. See the employment contract.