ALCOHOL AND DRUGS POLICY. 1. Introduction

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1 1. Introduction Throughout this Policy, the words Translink Company and/or the Group refer to all corporate entities under the ownership of the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company (NITHC). This includes the parent company and each subsidiary either individually or taken together as a group. 2. Scope Alcohol has a long standing place in society as a social relaxant. It would be naïve not to recognize the traditional role played by alcohol in many aspects of our society. Drugs have a very important place in the treatment of illness, from simple over the counter remedies to complex prescription and very special therapeutic drugs. We must also recognize that recreational use of certain illegal drugs is now perceived among many people as being normal although clearly not acceptable for people working in a public transport environment. Both alcohol and drugs can affect our behaviour and how we perform everyday activities and our work. They can have immediate effects in the minutes, hours and days after being consumed. Every one of our actions depends on messages from the brain. Alcohol and drugs can delay and distort these messages. Being under the influence of alcohol whilst in a work environment or hazardous location, or having taken drugs, has serious consequences for our own safety, and the safety of those who might be affected by our acts or omissions. Long term dependency can distort our perceptions of risk and our priorities. In addition longer term dependency can result in a continuous impact on our relationships with colleagues, friends and family. Alcohol related problems are widespread in the general community and therefore all employing organisations will have employees who will have an alcohol dependency and those who will abuse alcohol. Similarly drug and other substance abuse has become a more widespread problem with society. Alcohol, drug and substance abuse is recognised by many Government and other agencies as a significant contributor to social health and safety problems. Many bodies including the Trade Union movement recommend that employers should implement an Alcohol and Drugs Policy to address work related problems. As a major employer and service provider of public transport in Northern Ireland, Translink supports the view that substance misuse can have a serious impact on 1

2 safety. As a consequence of this view, Translink has had drugs & alcohol policies for many years. Translink as an employer can either ignore the employee who has a problem until dismissal becomes inevitable or to operate a positive policy with safeguards and support for those willing to be helped. Translink and its signatory Trade Unions believe that the correct way forward involves the continuing operation of a joint Alcohol and Drugs Policy. The alcohol and Drugs Policy applies to all people who work in or provide a service to or on behalf of Translink, whether as direct employees of the Company or as contractors or employees of contractors. The Company views alcohol related problems as any drinking, either intermittent or continuous, which interferes with an employee s work performance in the areas of safety, efficiency, productivity, or attendance at work of affects the safety or work performance of employees, their colleagues or any other person. It should be clear that the policy refers only to problems at work related to alcohol and does not seek to measure or control social drinking, except where social drinking impacts on work activities (e.g. the morning after affect). This policy recognises that alcohol or drug related problems can occur at all levels of the organisation, and accordingly is applicable to all Translink employees irrespective or position or seniority. For advice or support in alcohol and drugs matters please contact the following: Welfare Officer Designated Officer (HSE Manager) HR Business Partner (Bus) HR Business Partner (Rail) Aims This policy forms part of, and is complimentary to, Translink s Health & Safety Policy and Arrangements and Head Standards. The Company therefore considers Health & Safety as being the paramount factor in its approach to this policy. Nearly all employees are highly committed, disciplined and professional in their behaviour. A small number of employees may choose to occasionally come to work while unfit through alcohol or drugs 2

3 and escape detection. This is not acceptable as it puts the safety of themselves, colleagues, customers, visitors or neighbours at risk. Therefore the aims of the policy are:- To provide information to educate all employees on the effects of the use of alcohol and drugs. To ensure the safe and efficient provision of the public transport service. To prevent injury or death of employees, their colleagues or any other person. To create a climate which removes the tendency to conceal, deny and cover up alcohol and drug related problems. To encourage employees who believe they may have an alcohol or drug related problem to seek help, support and treatment voluntarily through the laid down procedures. To improve the health and well being of all employees. To promote and develop a culture which recognises that alcohol/drug/intoxicant misuse brings personal suffering to employees and their families. To prevent damage to or destruction of Translink s assets or equipment, or the property of employees, their colleagues or any other person. 4. Support for Employees Management, Supervisors and Trade Union representatives will be proactive in supporting employees they believe to have a problem with alcohol or drugs misuse to seek assistance before it affects their employment prospects. It is the employee s responsibility for ensuring and maintaining an improvement in his or her condition and work performance. However the Company recognises that achieving this improvement will not always be simple and straightforward and may require some time and the ongoing support of the Company and colleagues. An employee who declines to seek help, support or treatment through the provisions of the policy and whose absence or general work performance continues to be unsatisfactory will be dealt with under the normal disciplinary procedure. The support procedure is concerned only with ongoing alcohol and drug related problems. It will not be applied to employees who behave contrary to proper 3

4 standards of safety and conduct through drug abuse or as a result of drinking alcohol to excess on random occasions. Such instances will be dealt with in accordance with the normal and recognised disciplinary procedures covering misconduct. This policy does not therefore alter the necessary disciplinary action to be taken in cases of breaches in the existing rules (which are set out in section 9 below). The Company will be alert to the potential of false or malicious allegations being made against employees. If this is identified or believed to be the case then the employee will be offered support and referral for counselling. All internal and external allegations will be fully investigated and employees will be required to substantiate such allegations. If these are found to be false or malicious the employee may be subject to disciplinary action. 5. Responsibilities The Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development will:- Consult with employees through their Trade Unions and issue the Translink Alcohol and Drugs Policy. Ensure adequate resources are made available for training and education processes relating to the Policy. Monitor the effectiveness of the Policy and carry out reviews when necessary. Health, Safety and Environment Manager will:- Support the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development. Provide ongoing health promotion and education relating to alcohol and drugs abuse. Act as the Designated Officer for alcohol and drug abuse counselling. Quality assure the Policy through the unannounced testing program. Resource, provide and monitor alcohol and drug testing providers. Report to the Senior Managers, Health & Safety Committee on the effectiveness of the Policy on an annual basis. HR Manager will:- Ensure testing for alcohol and drugs misuse is integrated with:- Medical assessments for recruitment and selection. Periodic medicals for safety critical and safety related staff. 4

5 Welfare Officer will:- Arrange appropriate help and treatment for employees when required, utilising independent counselling services where appropriate. Managers/Supervisors will:- Ensure that employees under their control are made aware of Translink s Alcohol and Drugs policy. Ensure that they themselves and those working for them comply with the policy. Proactively identify and manage potential problems. Exercise vigilance to ensure that individuals do not commence work or work when unfit through alcohol and/or drugs. Ensure employees selected for testing are released. Deal with the issues referred internally or externally. Managers with responsibility for contracts and/or contractors will ensure that all contractors :- Are made fully aware of the Company s Alcohol and Drugs Policy. Have in place a code of discipline for dealing with such issues. Remove any employee who breaches the Policy from working in Translink or on its behalf. Take reasonable steps to ensure that any person, including former Translink employees, who have had a disciplinary record related to alcohol or drugs abuse are not employed to work in Translink or on its behalf. Employees will:- Ensure that they report for work in a fit condition Co-operate fully with the Company and/or its appointed representatives in the implementation of this Policy. Seek help and treatment through the laid down procedures in the event of having or believed to have an alcohol or drugs related problem. Report any issues or concerns immediately to their line Manager/Supervisor. 6. Referral for Diagnosis/Treatment Managers, Supervisors, Trade Union Representatives and colleagues are not expected to diagnose alcohol or drug related problems. They are however in a position to recognise impairment of work performance and with appropriate 5

6 awareness training, may recognise signs of substance misuse. Where a problem is thought to exist they should refer their concerns to the Designated Officer or Welfare Officer. Any employee who suspects that they have an alcohol or drug related problem may seek help, support or treatment through the Policy by directly contacting the Designated Officer or Welfare Officer by approaching his or her Manger or Trade Union Representative who will contact the Designated Officer or Welfare Officer on their behalf. The Designated Officer or Welfare officer will arrange for appropriate help, support and treatment through an independent counselling service, such as the Northern Ireland Community Addiction Service (N.I.C.A.S) Should any employee need to undergo treatment requiring time off work he or she will be considered to be absent on sick leave and the normal rules and benefits of the sickness scheme shall apply. No disciplinary action will be taken because of absence which is regarded as necessary while an employee is undergoing treatment under the policy. When a problem is identified and the nature of the employee s job is such that to continue to carry out the full range of duties would prejudice the safety of themselves, colleagues, customers, visitors or neighbours, the Company will endeavour to agree with the employee concerned and his or her Trade Union Representative temporary restricted duties or alternative duties. If neither of these options are practical the employee will not be allowed to work and will be considered to be off on sick leave and the normal rules and benefits of Company Sick Pay Scheme will apply. Having accepted help, support or treatment and resolved the alcohol or drug related problem, the employee s normal promotion prospects will not be impaired due to involvement in the referral process. Following return to employment, after or during treatment, should work performance again suffer as a result of alcohol or drug related problems, each case will be considered on its merits. If appropriate, further support and treatment may be provided. The confidentiality of records relating to employees with alcohol or drug related problems will be strictly preserved and only those members of Management or admin staff involved in a referral will have access to these. Where further dissemination of information in a record is required the employee will be advised 6

7 beforehand, although again the information will be treated in the strictest confidence. 7. Screening Programme A programme of medical screening for alcohol and drug abuse using proven scientific means and under confidential Chain of Custody arrangements will be carried out. This will apply in the following circumstances:- As part of a pre-employment medical examination for all posts (Candidates who screen positively will not be appointed). On transfer or promotion to any safety critical or safety related post. In the event of a safety critical incident involving a Company vehicle. In the event of an incident and where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the actions or omissions of an employee contributed to the incident occurring. When, for behavioural reasons, it is suspected that any employee is unfit to perform normal duties through the effects of alcohol or drugs. Through an evaluation programme under which 5% of employees in functions of importance to safety will be selected by the Independent Testing Agency over a 12 month period and screened. In the event of an employee smelling or being suspected of smelling of alcohol. Note: Employees who screen positively will be dealt with under the disciplinary rules as outlined in section 9. If an employee has not failed an alcohol or drugs test but is found to have or has declared an alcohol, drug or intoxicant problem/dependency, the following steps will take place:- Staff involved in safety critical or safety related duties will generally be removed from these duties. Although it is recognised that appropriate opportunities for redeployment to a non safety critical or safety related post may be limited, this option will be considered. If redeployment is not appropriate, the member of staff will be regarded as being on sick leave. The provisions of the Company Sick Pay Scheme will apply. Other staff will, if appropriate, carry on with normal duties. Their work and performance will be closely supervised and until such times as they are authorised as satisfactory by the supervisor. 7

8 The member of staff will be referred for suitable counselling/treatment. If the offer is refused, issues arising in the future will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedures. If the offer of treatment is taken up, the member of staff must complete the course of treatment at which stage the matter will be assessed in light of an independent report from the treatment provider. The Company will require supporting medical evidence. If reports indicate that the dependency is under control, the member of staff may then resume their original position, although an extended monitoring period, which will be identified in writing by the Company, will be required. 8. Unannounced Testing Employees holding a role which impacts on the safety of the provision of services Independent Testing Agency. The selection process for the sampling will be determined by the independent provider. The number of tests across the Company in any one year will approximate 5% of the number of employees on payroll within this group, taken in equal proportions to the numbers in the various grades. This testing will be carried out on employees who are on duty at the time (this includes anyone on normal duty, working overtime or on a call-out), and will not include employees who have finished their duty at the point in any time they are asked to undergo testing. Any employee who tests negatively within this process will be exempt from unannounced testing for a 12 month period from the date of testing. An annual report detailing the number of tests by grade and the results will be made available to all the recognised Trade Unions. 9. Disciplinary Rules Employees in breach of this policy will be treated under the relevant Company Disciplinary Procedure for the group concerned. An Employee must not:- Report for work having consumed alcohol or smelling of alcohol or having taken drugs which may impair performance. 8

9 Be in possession of alcohol or drugs while on Company premises or while on duty. Consume alcohol or abuse drugs while at work. Refuse to submit for alcohol or drugs testing under the conditions set out in section 6 above. Contravention of any of the rules as set out above will be considered Gross Misconduct and will be dealt with under the disciplinary procedure. Contractors or their employees found in non-compliance with this policy shall be deemed in breach of contract. This will result in offending persons being permanently barred from working for Translink and may result in cancellation of the contract. 10. Testing Procedure and Disciplinary Sanctions If there is cause to suspect that an employee is unfit to work through the effects of alcohol or having taken drugs while on duty or when reporting for duty, the following steps should be taken. The Manager or Supervisor will speak to the employee privately, inform them of the suspicion that they may be unfit to work through the effects of alcohol or drugs and arrange for them to be relieved from duty immediately. In certain circumstances it may be necessary to arrange for the employee to be relieved from duty before this explanation is given. The employee will be required to undertake an alcohol and drugs test carried out by the Independent Testing Agency appointed by the Company. In so far as is practicable the alcohol and drugs test will be undertaken sensitively and discreetly. The principles of the operation of the test process will be explained to the employee i.e. that the employee will be required to give a swab or breath sample. A urine sample will be required for confirmation analysis in the event of a positive indication. This will be processed under chain of custody conditions for full laboratory testing. The result of the test will be recorded and will be signed by the tester carrying out the test and the employee. The possible outcomes and resulting actions from a test are as follows:- 9

10 If the test result is on or below the Company limit if 29mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood (or equivalent in urine or breath) this will constitute a negative result and the employee will continue to work as normal. If the test result is on or exceeds 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (or equivalent in urine or breath), the employee will be suspended with pay pending confirmation analysis. Disciplinary proceedings will follow a positive confirmation. In normal circumstances this will result in dismissal on grounds of gross misconduct. If the test result exceeds the specified Company limit of 29mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood (or equivalent in urine or breath) and is below 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood (or equivalent in urine or breath) the employee will be suspended with pay pending disciplinary hearing. The disciplinary sanction for this offence will normally be a final written warning with the employee being subject to a more frequent sampling process. (An employee will only be given this sanction on one occasion, as any repetition regardless of the timeframe will be considered to be gross misconduct). For the purpose of this final written warning in regard to recruitment / promotion, the warning will last for 18 months. An employee who refuses to undertake al alcohol test will be suspended with pay pending referral of the matter to the relevant Line Manager. This will be considered as a positive test result and will be treated as gross misconduct rendering the employee subject to summary dismissal in accordance with the Company disciplinary procedure. Should a member of a contractor s staff be in excess of the specified limit following completion of the above procedure, that individual will be required to leave the sight. The matter must be reported to the person within Translink responsible for employing the contractor, and the findings reported to the contractor as soon as is reasonably practicable. A positive test will result in the contractor s member of staff being barred from working on Translink premises. The Company is committed to ongoing positive consultation with Trade Unions in relation to new testing technology. The Company will review the detail of this policy on a regular basis or as required by statutory legislative changes. 10

11 11. Questions & Answers (Where appropriate, references to alcohol are applicable to drugs) How do I know how much I can drink? Always adhere to safe drinking guidelines. However, you should always consider when you have to be on duty next, and the duration of time required for the alcohol you have consumed to be cleared from your body How do I know if I am unfit to work? You are considered unfit for work if you have more than the Company limit of alcohol in your blood (or equivalent in your urine or breath). The physical signs and symptoms vary from person to person. What is the Company limit? The specified Company limit is 29mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood (or equivalent in urine or breath). The use of any illegal or performance impairing drugs is not acceptable. How do I know if I am over the limit? Alcohol leaves the body at a rate of 1 unit per hour therefore you cannot be certain about when you reach the limit. You have to make a judgement based on the amount you have drunk and the time since you last had a drink. You may be completely unaware of the effects of drugs on your ability to work in a safe and satisfactory manner. How do I know when to stop drinking? As a guide, you should not drink alcohol for at least 8 hours before coming on duty. However, if you have been drinking more than 8 units (e.g. 2 or 3 pints of stronger lager or beer), you should allow longer for the alcohol to leave your body. How do I know how many units I have drunk? The general guidance is that 1 unit is the equivalent of a half pint of average strength beer, lager or cider, a small glass (125ml) of wine or a single pub measure of spirits. Average strength for beer means 3.5% - 4% alcohol. However, many beers, lagers and ciders are considerably stronger than that and therefore a pint may be up to 3 units. How do I know how strong a drink is? Most bottled or canned drinks state the alcohol content by volume on the label. In many pubs the alcohol content is shown on the label on the beer tap. 11

12 Is drinking at home different from drinking in a pub or club? Beers, lagers, and ciders drunk at home from bottles or cans are often stronger than those drunk in a pub. Also, people often drink bigger measures of spirits or wine at home than in a pub. It is therefore more difficult to keep track of the number of units that have been drunk at home. How can I get fit for work more quickly after drinking? There is no way of speeding up the process of alcohol leaving the bloodstream, it just takes time. The average rate is 1 unit per hour but this can vary from person to person. What do I do if I have been called in an emergency shortly after I have been drinking? Do not attend. Can I drink alcohol in the workplace after work? No. When might I be tested? You are likely to be tested for alcohol and drugs if you were involved in an accident or incident, even if you consider that you were not at fault. You will be tested if you report for duty showing evident signs of having consumed alcohol or drugs (such as smelling of alcohol, unsteady, slurred speech, unusual or erratic behaviour). What happens if I fail a test? The outcome of this will depend on the findings of the test and the circumstances. You may not be able to continue in a safety critical position, or safety related position. If you fail a test with your test result on or exceeding 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (or equivalent in urine or breath), you will be suspended with pay pending disciplinary hearing and will in normal circumstances be subject to dismissal on grounds of gross misconduct. If you fail a test with your result between 30-49mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood (or equivalent in urine or breath) you may be required to take a course of counselling or treatment if this is appropriate. You will be suspended with pay pending disciplinary hearing. The disciplinary sanction for this offence is normally a final written warning with the employee being subject to a more frequent sampling process (An employee will only be given this sanction on one occasion, as any repetition regardless of the timeframe will be considered to be gross misconduct). 12

13 What happens if I refuse to take the test? Refusal to take a test when required will have the same consequences as failing a test on the 50mg or above level and you will be suspended with pay pending disciplinary hearing and will in normal circumstances be subject to dismissal on grounds of gross misconduct. What is meant by an unannounced test? 5% of all staff who have a role which impacts on the safety of the operation are selected for testing each year by the independent testing agency. The agency staff will firstly select a location and then select an appropriate number of people from that location for testing. The testing days will be spread throughout the year but will not be predictable. Any employee who s test is negative within this process will be exempt from unannounced testing for a 12 month period from the date of the test. How do I know if I have been selected for an unannounced test? You will be asked, without prior notice, to report for testing by an authorised member of the Company Management / Supervisory team. How do I know that the testing process is carried out properly? All testing will be carried out by Company approved testing agency. If following a positive reading from an initial swab/breath test you will be required to provide a urine sample. Samples are subject to chain or custody arrangements. Your sample will be divided into 2 sample bottles in your presence. Each will be labelled with the same bar code as appears on the test agent form and sealed in front of you. The samples are then forwarded to an approved laboratory. One sample will be used for analysis and the second stored by the laboratory should further independent analysis be required. In the event of a positive test a further confirmation analysis will be carried out. If the result is positive you have the right to ask for the unused sample to be tested at a laboratory nominated by you. Might I be tested by the PSNI as well as by Translink whilst at work? Normally testing will be required by and arranged by Translink but there may be occasions when the PSNI require to carry out tests on individuals. If you require a driving license for work then you are required to report the results of any such testing to your Manager. What medication can I take and still be fit for duty? You must ask your doctor or pharmacist the nature of the medication you are required to take and any possible effects it may have on your ability to work in a safe and satisfactory manner and inform your supervisor before your next duty. 13

14 The Supervisor will then have the medication checked with the Designated Officer to ensure it is safe for you to continue working. If you are selected for an alcohol or drugs test, you will be asked and you must tell the person carrying out the test what medication you are, or have recently been taking, as this will be taken into account by the testing laboratory. If I have been at a party and inhaled marijuana smoke passively from other people smoking it, would I fail a drugs test? Whilst it is not advisable to remain in such an environment it is unlikely that subsequent testing will register a positive. The test levels set are such that exposure to normal passive inhalation would not trigger a fail result. Nevertheless if you are aware of being in such a situation, you should declare it before being tested under Translink s procedure. What happens if I confide in my Manager that I have a problem with drink or drugs? Your Manager will contact the Designate officer or Welfare Officer for alcohol and drug abuse counselling in the strictest confidence. The Designated Officer or Welfare Officer will arrange to meet with you in order to arrange appropriate and agreed support. What do I do if someone tells me in confidence that he thinks that he has a problem with drink or drugs? If you are not the individuals Manager, you should encourage them to go to their Manager, Shop Steward, the Designated Officer or Company Welfare Officer to seek help. If you have concerns re the person s ability to look to their own safety or that their behaviour might affect the safety of others you should report your concerns in confidence to the Designated Officer. The Designated Officer then decides what action to take. However ill founded reports may be a breach of the Dignity at Work Policy. What do I do if I think a colleague is under the influence of drugs or alcohol? You should advise their Manager immediately. If their actions or decisions could be an immediate cause of danger, you should take immediate steps to stop them continuing with these. 12. Previous Versions of Policy Original issue date: November

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