As an employer, you may be unsure about what to include in your workplace drug and alcohol policy. Rightly so, as there is no one size fits all.
As with any workplace policy, crafting a comprehensive policy regarding the use of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) requires collaboration with your HR employees and, if possible, a professional that specialises in risk assessment.
AOD Policy Essentials
Firstly, the development of an effective workplace AOD policy requires a thorough assessment of the risks and hazards of alcohol and drug use in your industry. Once you have clearly identified them you can create an effective policy that addresses them.
Every single day that passes without having a drug and alcohol policy in place puts your business at risk for claims and lawsuits in the event of drug and alcohol-related accidents and injuries. In addition, your best workers have no existing protections in place against your other workers who use alcohol and other drugs.
There is no one single formula to company drug and alcohol policies. Each company policy is unique to the individual requirements of the workplace. To provide a frame of reference, here are the 6 essentials of a workplace drug and alcohol policy.
1. State The Aim
The workplace drug and alcohol policy should clearly state the aim of the policy, such as to:
- Protect employee health and welfare
- Prevent drug and alcohol-related incidents
- Foster a safe workplace environment
- Encourage safe and positive behaviors
- Discourage drug and alcohol use
In addition, it should be clear that the employee has a right to confidentiality, which means drug test results, whether positive or negative, and the procedures that follow will be kept in confidence.
2. Explain The Purpose
Moreover, the purpose of the drug and alcohol policy should be clearly explained. Be clear on the purpose of the policy, such as keeping everyone safe and healthy and achieving the productivity goals of the company.
3. Define Who It Applies To
Who the drug and alcohol policy applies to should also be clearly stated.
Ideally, you want the policy to cover all workers in your company, including contractors.
No one should be exempt from coverage, especially since drug and alcohol use does not discriminate.
4. Provide Clear Cut Guidelines on Acceptable and Unacceptable Behaviour
This is a determining factor as to whether your drug and alcohol policy will stand in court, which is why the wording should be clear as to what constitutes unacceptable behaviour. For example, this includes unacceptable behaviour even during work-sponsored functions.
To be on the safe side, it’s best to implement a total ban on drug and alcohol use at work. It should also explicitly state in the policy that there is no tolerance for any drug-taking or drinking while at work and during work functions. It is a fact that many accidents that occur at work due to a worker taking drugs or drinking alcohol before work, after work, and during the weekend.
5. Specify Implementation and Consequences of Non-Compliance
How will you implement your company’s drug and alcohol policy?
It’s better to include a drug awareness program which goes beyond just handing out copies to your employees.
Moreover, procedural details to include are:
- Frequency of AOD testing
- Methods of testing
- Types of tests (voluntary, random, blanket…)
- Consequences of testing positive (disciplinary action, suspension, possible rehabilitative programs, termination…)
- Provision for chronic drug and alcohol abusers (addiction is an illness that requires treatment…)
In most cases, companies offer employee assistance programs for chronic drug and alcohol abusers. However, it largely depends on the line of work the employee is in. For instance, in aviation, pilots who test positive for drug and alcohol abuse almost always end in termination.
6. Define When the AOD Policy Comes into Effect and When It Was Last Updated
This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how often companies leave out th e date their AOD policy becomes effective.
Make certain you specify the start date of your policy and allow for sufficient time to educate and prepare your staff.
Similarly, your company’s drug and alcohol policy should be reviewed and updated regularly as needed.
If the latest assessment has identified new hazards — maybe a new drug was introduced to the market — then the changes should be reflected in your policy.
A workplace drug and alcohol policy should be clear, detailed, and concise to be effective. If you would like professional assistance developing a drug and alcohol policy, why not contact our experts at Drug-Safe Australia?