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Alcohol Policy

A health policy is a written arrangement developed, agreed and adopted by organisations, that outlines employers’ guiding principles and procedures for promoting employee health, safe working practices and complies with health and safety law.

It is also important that employers recognise that there may be ways to address problems of alcohol or drug misuse that could not only help an individual to overcome their addiction, but also tackle other underlying factors that are causing it.

Model Alcohol Policy – 2009

Developed by the Scottish Government & Alcohol Industry Partnership in conjunction with the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives.

View policy

Alcohol policy implementation

Drug and alcohol policies may be separate or combined documents.

A clear statement of the need for a policy to protect the health of employees.

  • Specific reference to the health and safety risk posed by alcohol and drugs and the health consequences of alcohol and drug misuse.
  • Reference to respective legislation.
  • The definition of alcohol and drug misuse.

Policy rules

  • Clear guidance on the organisation’s parameters, rules and procedures for dealing with issues relating to alcohol and drug use, and guidelines relating to misconduct and breaches of the policy.
  • A clear statement that employees are not allowed to work when affected by alcohol or controlled drugs, and guidance on prescription drugs which may affect their behaviour and/or work.
  • Clear procedures for dealing with employees whose work performance is adversely affected by alcohol or drugs.
  • If the policy includes testing for alcohol or drugs, specific reference should be made to the testing procedures and circumstances in which testing will be carried out.


  • Communication of policy rules to all staff.
  • Equity across all levels of staff regardless of status.
  • Education on the impact of alcohol and drugs in the workplace.
  • Promotion of sensible drinking as part of a healthier lifestyle.
  • Training for managers who are responsible for enforcement.


  • Details of support available to employees who are identified as having a drug and/or alcohol problem including how to access this support.
  • Adhere to best practice when dealing with disciplinary cases involving alcohol or drugs.

Monitoring review

  • Implementation date and details of the monitoring and review process.


  • The maintenance of strict confidentiality, which is fundamental to a policy.

For more information please check out Health Scotlands Simple Guide: Alcohol and drugs in the workplace

Essential Reads

Employers and employees are required by law to address the issue of alcohol and drugs in the workplace.

These include:

The Health & Safety Executive have published two reports:

These documents address the benefits to employers and businesses by successfully tackling alcohol & drugs misuse in the workplace.

The HSE point out:

“You have a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of your employees.”

The HSE encourage employers to create a ‘policy on drug misuse’ as part of their organisation’s overall Health & Safety policy.

According to the World Health Organisation global action plan, every employee should have access to a health consultation service at work.

Often taking action and reporting an issue can be difficult. You have built up a relationship with your colleague and worry that you may get them or you in trouble. Here is what have to say.

What is a whistleblower

You’re a whistleblower if you’re a worker and you report certain types of wrongdoing.

This will usually be something you’ve seen at work – though not always.

The wrongdoing you disclose must be in the public interest. This means it must affect others, eg the general public.

As a whistleblower you’re protected by law – you shouldn’t be treated unfairly or lose your job because you ‘blow the whistle’.

You can raise your concern at any time about an incident that happened in the past, is happening now, or you believe will happen in the near future.

Who is protected by law

You’re protected if you’re a worker, eg you’re:

  • An employee, such as a police officer, NHS employee, office worker, factory worker
  • A trainee, such as a student nurse
  • An agency worker
  • A member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Get independent advice if you’re not sure you’re protected, eg from Citizens’ Advice.

A confidentiality clause or ‘gagging clause’ in a settlement agreement isn’t valid if you’re a whistleblower.

Complaints that count as whistleblowing

You’re protected by law if you report any of the following:

  • A criminal offence, eg fraud
  • Someone’s health and safety is in danger
  • Risk or actual damage to the environment
  • A miscarriage of justice
  • The company is breaking the law, eg doesn’t have the right insurance
  • You believe someone is covering up wrongdoing

 Complaints that don’t count as whistleblowing

Personal grievances (eg bullying, harassment, discrimination) aren’t covered by whistleblowing law, unless your particular case is in the public interest.

Report these under your employer’s grievance policy.

Contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) for help and advice on resolving a workplace dispute.

Find out more

If you don’t agree that appropriate action has been taking you can raise a dispute with your employer.


Problems with your employer usually fall into one of two categories:

  • Grievances – when you raise your concerns, problems or complaints with your employer
  • Disciplinaries – when your employer has concerns about your work, conduct or absence

Explain your concern to your manager to see if you can sort out any problems informally. You may find it helpful to suggest what you would like them to do to solve your problem.

Your employer should discuss any disciplinary issues with you informally first. These issues could lead to formal disciplinary action, including dismissal in more serious or repetitive cases.

Right to be accompanied

  • You have the right to be accompanied to grievance or disciplinary meetings (and any appeals) by either a:
  • Colleague or trade union representative
  • Family member or Citizens Advice Bureau worker if this allowed – check your employment contract, company handbook or human resources intranet site 

If you are experiencing domestic violence, you may be feeling a range of different emotions. Perhaps your abuser is apologetic and regretful the next day, so you feel guilty about thinking about reporting them. Or, they could be making threats that make you fearful about taking the matter further. Whatever the situation, and even if the abuse has only happened once, it is important to understand that it is unacceptable and you have the right to feel safe in your own home. 

If the domestic abuse is happening right now and you feel in immediate danger, call 999. Find a safe space, ideally with a clear exit route and call the police straight away – this is why it’s important to keep your mobile phone with you at all times. 

If the abuse is ongoing, there are a number of ways you can report it: 

  • By calling or visiting your local police station 
  • By completing Scotland Police’s online domestic abuse form.  This can be submitted via the website, or if you prefer you can print it off and post it to the Domesic Abuse Coordination Unit at Police Scotland, Clyde Gateway, 2 French Street, Dalmarnock, Glasgow G40 4EH 

When reporting any kind of abuse, it is important to provide the police with as much information as possible. If you can, keep a diary of all the things that have happened, including dates, times and details of any witnesses. Also keep a record of any abusive text messages, emails, post and recordings as these can be used as evidence, and take photographs of any injuries. 

What happens next?

Police Scotland are dedicated to treating victims of domestic abuse sensitively and professionally, and will work hard to keep you safe. They will thoroughly investigate all incidents and evidence before taking appropriate action, and you will be put in touch with a Domestic Abuse Liaison Officer who will advise you on how to stay safe. They may recommend you stay with a friend or family member or put you in contact with an appropriate organisation, such as a shelter, where you can stay for the time being.  

If you have legal costs but cannot afford to pay for them, you may be able to apply for legal aid.  

First, you will need to find a solicitor that is willing to take on legal aid work – you can use this online tool to help you find one.

When you have found a solicitor, they will talk you through the process so you know what to expect. You will also need to be able to prove that you can’t afford to pay your legal fees, and in some cases you may be asked to pay back some of the money at a later date. Take a look at all your options for legal help – as you may be able to have the full amount paid for by the government, depending on your circumstances. 

Legal aid can help towards the cost of legal advice from a solicitor, such as negotiating with the other party, how to deal with paperwork and what your rights are in the eyes of the law. It can also help with court fees. 

You can apply for legal aid here 



Related links:

Find a solicitor

Alternatives to legal aid

Apply for legal aid

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