Alcohol and drug abuse policy


This alcohol and drug abuse policy supports Registers of Scotland's (RoS) commitment to the health and well being of employees and its aim of ensuring employees are guided by realistic and helpful policies to promote healthier lifestyles.

RoS also recognises that alcohol and drug abuse problems can have a detrimental effect on work performance and behaviour, and RoS has a health and safety responsibility to its employees and customers to ensure that this risk is minimised.

Policy statement

RoS' policy involves two approaches:providing reasonable assistance to employees with an alcohol or drug abuse problem who is willing to cooperate in treatment for that problem; and to balance a disciplinary approach to instances of misconduct with a more understanding attitude of cases of dependency, but to take disciplinary action against those who allow their alcohol or drug-related problems to persist with detrimental effects on their own and colleagues' work.

RoS will seek to assist employees in obtaining specialist help and the policy will provide guidance on how to proceed when tackling instances of alcohol or drug abuse.
Where someone is addicted to drugs originally medically prescribed, RoS will comply with the provisions of the Equality Act 2010.
The specific objectives of the policy are to:

  • provide information on the effects of alcohol and drugs and an understanding of the likely symptoms of abuse
  • encourage and support self-referral or intervention at an early stage of dependency;
  • provide support during a period of treatment to help employees to recover and to make an effective contribution at work
  • create a climate which encourages honesty and gives employees and management confidence to deal with an individual's alcohol or drug abuse problems by following a clear procedure

Adopting a sensible approach

Other than the special circumstances set out in the following paragraph, you are not permitted to drink alcohol on RoS premises. All of us - whatever our jobs – also need to be particularly careful about alcohol consumption when not on RoS premises if we are going to be working or, of course, if we are driving. Drinking alcohol can cause drowsiness and impaired judgement which can have a negative impact on performance and affect how colleagues and other people view not only RoS, but also you and the way you work.

Special circumstances

There are special circumstances organised by RoS where alcohol may be consumed on RoS premises eg special events to mark important milestones or achievements of employees. At such events, the quantity of alcohol supplied will be reasonable for the numbers attending and soft drinks will also be available.

Assistance for employees

RoS will offer help to employees who have an alcohol or drug abuse problem although that help will depend upon the following:

  • that our occupational health providers diagnose an alcohol or drug abuse problem
  • that the employee recognises that he/she is suffering from an alcohol or drug related problem and is prepared to cooperate fully in referral and treatment

We must all recognise that such help will be limited in certain circumstances. This will be:

  • where an employee fails to co-operate in referral or treatment arrangements, no special assistance will be given and any failure in work performance and/or behaviour will be dealt with through the performance capability or disciplinary policy and procedures as appropriate
  • if the process of referral and treatment is completed but is not successful  
  • failure in work performance and/or behaviour occurs

This will be dealt with through the performance capability procedure or  disciplinary policy and procedures as appropriate.

An employee's continuation in his/her post or an alternative post during or after treatment may depend upon the business needs of RoS at that time.

Everyone has a part to play

The policy reminds everybody that we all have responsibilities for identifying and dealing with alcohol or drug abuse.


Managers have a key role to play in identifying employees who may have alcohol or drug-related problems. As a manager you should adopt a business like but sensitive approach. The overriding intention in intervening should be to provide assistance to the person concerned.

As a manager, you should:

  • make yourself familiar with the policy and ensure that your employees are aware of and understand it
  • be alert to possible alcohol or drug abuse in your section 
  • take an objective and non-judgmental approach when investigating or taking action on any potential or actual case of alcohol or drug abuse

If you are concerned about the performance, attendance or conduct of an employee and know or suspect that the cause is in any way alcohol or drug-related you should discuss the matter with the individual at a private and confidential interview as soon as possible.

At the interview the possible existence of an alcohol or drug abuse problem should be explored. You are not required to diagnose the existence of an alcohol or drug abuse problem, merely to assess whether such abuse is a possible factor.

Should the interview lead to the conclusion that an alcohol or drug abuse problem might exist, and the employee accepts referral, you should refer the matter to an HR adviser who will arrange for an occupational health referral. This referral will establish whether or not a diagnosis of alcoholism or drug dependence can be made.

Any disciplinary procedures that might otherwise apply will normally be suspended until the outcome of the occupational health referral is known.

If your interview does not lead to the conclusion that an alcohol or drug abuse problem exists, or the employee rejects, or fails to cooperate in  occupational health referral, disciplinary action should be continued, where and as the situation justifies.


Employees should:

  • be familiar with the policy and ensure your performance is not impaired as a consequence of alcohol or drug abuse
  • advise your manager if you are using medicines, which may have the potential to affect work performance
  • avoid covering up for or colluding with any colleague who has an alcohol or drug abuse problem;
  • urge colleagues with an alcohol or drug abuse problem to seek help
  • seek help yourself if you have problems related to alcohol or drug abuse (see sources of help below)
  • advise management if you consider that a colleague's or contractor's alcohol or drug abuse may be endangering the safety of other employees, contractors or the public


HR advisers are likely to have to deal both with employees and managers if a problem arises. HR advisers must therefore:

  • offer support and guidance when required
  • provide details of external agencies when required
  • refer employee for assistance in appropriate cases and advise on the appropriateness or otherwise of recourse to the disciplinary procedure
  • ensure fairness and consistency of treatment across RoS
  • monitor and maintain the policy

Union officials

Union officials have a responsibility to:

  • encourage members to seek help where appropriate
  • remind members of their rights and responsibilities under the policy

Providing guidance to managers

Clearly, managers have a key role to play in dealing with instances of alcohol or drug abuse problems. In order to help managers deal effectively with such issues RoS can provide the opportunity for all managers to attend workshops to better understand the application of this policy. This will provide an opportunity to talk about the policy and to discuss any issues of concern.

Employees are encouraged to come forward

Employees who think they may have an alcohol or drug abuse problem are encouraged and expected to seek confidential advice, help or treatment. Alcohol or drug-related problems can have serious health and social consequences and therefore RoS will provide support for anyone who seeks and accepts assistance. You can seek help through your GP, your manager, HR adviser or the confidential employee assistance provider. A quick guide to the procedures for dealing with alcohol and drug abuse.

Disciplinary action

In line with RoS' disciplinary policy, the following will be regarded as serious misconduct:

  • attending work and/or carrying out duties under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • consumption of alcohol or drugs whilst at work (other than where prescribed or approval has been given

Where a breach of these rules occurs, but it is established that an alcohol or drug abuse problem exists, and the employee is willing to cooperate in a referral for specialist help and subsequent treatment, RoS will suspend any disciplinary procedures and provide assistance. Employees who do not comply with the treatment suggested or continue to abuse alcohol or drugs will be subject to the application of the disciplinary policy.
Should an employee take up the opportunity of assistance on this basis there need be no further formal involvement of the manager in terms of action. Human resources will, however, keep the manager aware in broad terms of progress with treatment. It may be, however, that the employee would wish, or agree to, further involvement of their manager as a means of assisting progress with treatment.

Monitoring and review

This policy is an integral part of RoS' health and well being programme and will be subject to review from time to time. The HR department primarily, will be responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of this policy. This will be done in liaison with managers and the trade union to ensure that the policy is clearly understood by all and that the procedures for tackling instances of alcohol or drug abuse are helping to address RoS' commitment to the health and well-being of all employees.

Facts about alcohol and drugs

The Help EAP has helpful information and guidance on addictions including alcohol and drugs which is available on the intranet from Support@RoS. You are encouraged to make yourself familiar with the support available.

Identifying alcohol and drug misuse

We should all be alert to the possible early signs of substance misuse to allow individuals every opportunity to overcome their difficulties. Possible symptoms that could indicate a substance misuse problem can be found at Help EAP.

Sources of help

  • Your manager
  • Your HR adviser
  • Your trade union representative
  • Your doctor/GP
  • The contact number for HELP employee assistance is 0800 587 5670 and the website address is
  • Alcohol Focus Scotland 0141 572 6700 (for information)
  • Glasgow Council on Alcohol 0141 226 3883 (counselling)
  • National Drugs Helpline 0800 776600