What is a Substance Misuse Policy?

    A substance misuse policy is a written document that:

    • States a company’s outlook on the consumption of drugs and alcohol at work
    • Outlines the rules and regulations they have in place
    • Details the disciplinary procedure for any employee who breaches the rules

A substance misuse policy is implemented by an employer to make employees aware of the expectations regarding drug use and alcohol intake, to inform employees of the health and safety risks of substance abuse at work, and to offer help and support to employees and management staff by providing a readily available reference document outlining the company’s policy.

Why Should a Company Have a Substance Misuse Policy?

Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure, as far as practically reasonable, the safety of all employees at work (Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974). In addition employers must not knowingly permit the use of controlled substances on their premises (Misuse of Drugs Act, 1971). A workplace drug and alcohol testing policy is a proactive way to ensure legal compliance.

A substance misuse policy minimises the risks of drug or alcohol related incidents by deterring employees from abusing these substances and also by identifying issues before incidents can occur. This enhances the safety of employees and helps to maintain a healthy and secure working environment. In addition it enhances productivity and strengthens business performance by ensuring a competent workforce.

Is it a Legal Requirement?

Workplace drug and alcohol testing is not a legal requirement, however for employers wishing to carry out employee testing, a policy is required to maintain the rights of the employer and their employees.

A written substance misuse policy must be in place outlining the purpose of the policy, how tests will be carried out, what support is available, and details of disciplinary procedures which may result if the rules are not followed. It must be comprehensive and able to be understood by all employees. In addition, consent to carry out testing must be gained from employees before any testing is carried out; the policy should be noted in an employee’s contract and the employment contract should be signed and dated by the employee.

What Types of Organisations Require a Substance Misuse Policy?

Ideally all companies and organisations would carry out workplace drug and alcohol testing, and therefore have a substance misuse policy in place however it is particularly recommended for those which have safety critical roles. Such roles include employees who carry out activities that could put others at risk, cause damage to equipment, or lose valuable resources if they make a mistake i.e. LGV drivers, offshore oil drillers, fire and rescue teams etc.

Randox Testing Services provide employee testing for a wide range of industries to enable all organisations to carry out workplace drug and alcohol testing.

To Whom Does a Substance Misuse Policy Apply?

A company’s substance misuse policy must not discriminate, and should apply to staff at all levels as well as including employees on both full-time/ part-time contracts, and temporary/ permanent contracts.

How Can Randox Testing Services Assist?

At Randox Testing Services we provide a comprehensive consultancy service to help you create an effective substance misuse policy. Use of this service ensures a legally viable policy to maintain the rights of both you the employer and your employees. To implement the new policy, we also provide a training and education service to help you communicate the new policy to your employees, and provide training to your management team on the identification of drug and alcohol abuse at work.

Employers who already have a workplace drug and alcohol testing policy in place can also avail of our consultancy service. We can help you to modify and improve your existing policy by providing our knowledge and expertise.

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