Information for Employers

Employers and employees are required by law to address the issue of alcohol and drugs in the workplace (relevant legislation includes Health and Safety at work, etc. Act 1974 and statutory legislation e.g. the Transport and Works Act 1992)


Workplaces regularly feel the adverse affects of alcohol and drug use, it is estimated that about 640,000 sick days are taken due to hangovers every year and time spent off work by people with an alcohol dependency takes a further 1.2 million days of productivity from Scottish employers (online, Alcohol Focus Scotland, 19 June 2013). It was estimated that in 2007 lower productivity at work and days off from hangovers cost Scottish businesses £400million (The societal cost of alcohol misuse in Scotland for 2007, York Health Economics Consortium, University of York on behalf of the Scottish Government, 2009).


No employer can afford to ignore the risks associated with alcohol and drug misuse to their company and staff. There are a number of reasons employers should have a proactive approach to alcohol and drugs in the workplace. These include:

  • the health and safety case
  • other legislative requirements
  • the business case
  • corporate image
  • concern for the health and wellbeing of staff

Failing to address factors that make a workplace unsafe can place an employer in a serious position as far as health and safety legislation is concerned. There is strong evidence that failing to tackle issues relating to alcohol is costly.

Costs can be due to:

  • increased levels of absenteeism, lateness and sickness absence
  • lower productivity
  • increased accidents and mistakes
  • unacceptable conduct, which may threaten the company’s reputation

As an employer you are in a key position to offer support and information relating to alcohol and drugs to your employees to help maintain their health and wellbeing and support them in being healthy workers.


What can you do?


Healthy Working Lives is currently working with the charity Alcohol Focus Scotland to provide FREE alcohol education and training sessions for managers to Ayrshire and Arran based organisations. The half day Alcohol Focus Scotland training sessions offer information on alcohol and drug issues in the workplace and support on implementing appropriate policies.

This course would also help managers identify the signs of alcohol and drug abuse in employees and offer appropriate support.

For more information or to book a place on the course contact the local Healthy Working Lives Team on 01292 885855 or email AA-UHB.HWL@nhs.net

Bespoke training sessions on alcohol and drugs within organisations is also available locally from Addiction Services’ Prevention and Service Support Team (the booking for can be found in our downloadable documents section to the right)


Support with Policy Development

Your organisation can also access support from NHS Ayrshire & Arran’s Workplace Team in developing workplace alcohol and drug policies.

To speak to a member of the team call 01292 885855 or email AA-UHB.HWL@nhs.net

Healthy Working Lives Award Programme

It is the aim of Healthy Worki
ng Lives to help employers create a safer, healthier and more motivated workforce.

The Healthy Working Lives Award programme provides employers of all sizes with a comprehensive, step-by-step good practice framework for improving health at work. The Healthy Working Lives Award Programme has three levels - Bronze, Silver and Gold. All companies start out at bronze and have the option to progress through the award stages, or to maintain one particular level. It covers a wide range of health related topics, including the health and safety needs of staff, health promotion with staff, reducing sickness absence and topics such as mental health and well-being and alcohol and drugs.

As part of the silver award workplaces are required to develop and implement a supportive alcohol and drug policy, the workplace team will support you with this either through development of a new policy or review of existing policies.

For more information or to sign up for Healthy Working Lives, please call 01292 885855 or email AA-UHB.HWL@nhs.net

Healthy Working Lives Advice Line

The Healthy Working Lives Adviceline offers free and confidential support and information on any occupational health and safety issues in the workplace.

If you have an enquiry related to alcohol and drug use in the workplace, the Healthy Working Lives occupational health and safety advisers are happy to answer your questions. Please call the Healthy working lives advice line on 0800 019 2211.

Simple Guide – Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace

Healthy Working Lives together with Health Scotland have produced a document which will help workplaces with basic information about drugs and alcohol in the workplace; you can download it here.


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