Alcohol and other drugs - procedure for assisting employees


The University recognises that “problem drinking”, alcoholism and other drug dependencies are disorders of health and behaviour which can interfere with safe and responsible work performance, but which may be amenable to treatment.

The University also recognises that many of these disorders are preventable and will make use of current professional guidance in this area.

Where an employee’s unsatisfactory or deteriorating work performance could be associated with the effects of drinking or the use of other drugs, the University will give the individual the opportunity of referral to an appropriate agency for treatment.

The University will only concern itself with the use of alcohol or other drugs by any of its employees when this has a detrimental effect on work performance or is, or may be, prejudicial to the safety of the individual, other employees, clients, students or members of the public while the employee is conducting University business.

Employees with drinking problems are encouraged, on their own initiative, to seek help voluntarily and before their job performance is affected.

Confidentiality will be maintained at all times, subject to the requirements of the procedures below.


NB For convenience and brevity the following sections refer only to drinking, as this is likely to be the major source of problems. It is understood that, wherever possible, the University will adopt a similar approach to helping employees with other problems of drug dependency.

Any employee who suspects that a colleague has a drink problem that is affecting his/her work should consult the Directorate of Human Resources for guidance and advice.

The line manager’s role is to monitor job performance and if in doubt as to the reason for deterioration in job performance to facilitate referral to the Directorate of Human Resources or the Occupational Health Department. An employee may choose to confide in a Dean of Faculty/Director or senior manager about his/her alcohol problem but should never be put under pressure to do so. Employees who wish to confide their problem will be offered help that could include professional counselling.

Staff who are subject to disciplinary action for behaviour related to alcohol abuse may be referred to the Occupational Health Department. At this stage the employee will be informed of his/her right to union representation and, if appropriate, given the choice of following the normal disciplinary procedures or the treatment option.

If the employee refuses appropriate treatment for an alcohol problem, this in itself is not a disciplinary matter. However, the employee will be expected to perform his/her job in a manner satisfactory to his/her Dean of Faculty/Director and will be subject to normal disciplinary measures if he/she fails to do this.

The responsibility for accepting treatment will remain with the individual employee.

If the employee either agrees to have, or independently seeks treatment, the normal sick leave arrangements will apply. In addition, time off with pay will be given if the employee is required to attend appointments at a clinic during working hours.

The University guarantees that, while the employee is receiving treatment, his/her present job will be retained so long as there is a gradual return to satisfactory work performance within a reasonable time period, and provided that this does not constitute a breach of legal requirements.

Where retention of an employee’s job during treatment would constitute a breach of legal requirements, the University will make every effort to find suitable alternative employment.

The line manager will consult the employee and will ask the Occupational Health Department for advice concerning the time period which should be allowed for a return to satisfactory work performance and, with the Occupational Health Department, will regularly review the progress of employees during and after treatment. The employee will be kept informed of the content of these discussions.

The employee will continue to be responsible for his/her work record. If there is no improvement in work performance within a reasonable time period the normal disciplinary procedures will be followed.

Serious alcohol dependency is classed as an illness, so that the usual regulations covering premature retirement on grounds of ill-health may be implemented.

It is recognised that, even where treatment has been successful, there is still a danger of relapse. If this occurs, following discussions with the Occupational Health Department, the line manager may allow an opportunity for further treatment that will be given under the same conditions as before.

Updated November 2010