Chelmsford City Council. Human Resources. Drugs and Alcohol at Work

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1 Chelmsford City Council Human Resources Drugs and Alcohol at Work

2 Table of contents 1. Introduction Scope Advice Assistance Further Support and Information... 3

3 1. Introduction 1.1. The Council is concerned that the use of drugs and/or alcohol by any of its employees should not adversely affect their health and personal life with consequential affects on their attendance and work performance Where attendance and work performance are affected directly by drugs or alcohol, the Council will view it as a serious matter. Depending on the circumstances this may dealt with under the disciplinary procedures or where there is a dependency under the Sickness Absence Management Procedures Having a drink at lunchtime will not necessarily constitute inappropriate behaviour, as long as this type of drinking does not have an adverse effect on the afternoon s work, for example at meetings, driving and supervising others. However, if an employee operates machinery as part of their role they should not consume alcohol during working hours. If they are found to be doing so, action will be taken through the disciplinary procedure The purpose of this policy is to promote the health and well being of employees and to minimise problems at work arising from substance misuse Moderate drinking of alcohol is socially acceptable, however, the taking of illegal drugs (as opposed to prescribed drugs) is a criminal offence. People have a drug or alcohol problem if their consumption causes harm to themselves or to others If an employee is convicted of a criminal offence related to alcohol or drugs it may conflict with the conditions of their employment. In such cases action would be taken through the disciplinary procedure and could lead to their dismissal. 2. Scope 2.1. This policy covers all employees of the Council and those engaged from employment agencies. 3. Advice 3.1. Any employee who feels they have a problem should seek advice and help. The matter should be discussed confidentially with their manager, but failing this other people who could be approached include the: Employee Assistance Programme 1

4 the employee s Human Resources Business Partner their own Doctor the Council's Occupational Health Service provider by appointment 3.2. It would be helpful if the employee were to advise their manager that they were seeking medical help so that every assistance could be given in the working environment. 3.3 Roles involving driving or machine operation are particularly important. Employees have a legal obligation to disclose any factor that could cause harm or breach employers H&S requirements Identifying the symptoms in people and getting them to acknowledge their problem is the first step. Staff should not, even for the best motives, cover up for a colleague with an alcohol or drug problem. Their work will suffer and the colleague will be allowed to sink deeper into dependency. The main cause of concern here is the risks to self and others People on the way to a dependency frequently hide the evidence and refuse to admit to themselves or to others what is happening to them. Staff who suspect or know that a colleague or someone they are responsible for has a problem should encourage them to seek help in the ways mentioned above. 4. Assistance 4.1. The Council believes that substance misuse constitutes a health problem and will view sympathetically absences for the treatment of alcoholism or drug addiction where genuine attempts are being made to overcome the problem Following treatment, if an employee is off work following ordinary treatment, every effort will be made to help and support them in their return to work If a person's recovery would be jeopardised by returning to the same job, or that return was not in the best interest of the Council, then where practicable, suitable training will be offered and efforts made to find alternative employment if this is the recommended solution. Also, some employees may receive treatment but will not be away from work for long periods. We will seek to support individuals in every circumstance Every encouragement will be given to employees to seek appropriate help. Managers have the most important role to play in identifying problems at work. They are the most likely to observe unsatisfactory 2

5 behaviour and raise the matter with the employee as part of normal supervision with the aim of preventing further occurrence In this process managers should be alert to the possibility of an alcohol or drug problem (or any other type of addiction). Guidelines are given in the Council s Alcohol at Work Guidelines for Managers (see appendix) to help managers to do this If an alcohol or drug dependent member of staff refuses or fails to complete treatment or relapses, subsequent poor work performance, attendance or behaviour will be dealt with by the Council s Capability Procedure. Each case will be treated on its merits and if appropriate a further opportunity to accept and co-operate with treatment may be provided. 5. Further Support and Information 5.1. Useful Contacts: Chelmsford City Council s Employee Assistance Programme Tel: AL-ANON FAMILY GROUPS (provides support for families of someone with a drink problem) Tel: Alcohol Advice Service Tel: Alcohol Concern Tel: Alcoholics Anonymous Tel: Drinkwatchers Tel: NEW WRITTLE STREET CENTRE Tel: Help & Advice for Drug Addiction: FRANK Tel: Drugscope Tel:

6 Appendix 1: Alcohol at Work Guidelines for MANAGERS 1. Introduction The Council expects its managers to have an understanding attitude towards employees who become dependant on alcohol. It is important for an organisation, and its senior managers, to demonstrate that they are committed to implementation of the policy. These guidelines have been written to assist you to recognise alcohol or alcohol related problems and offer any help that is needed. 2. Identification of Problem Drinking Problem drinking may be the cause, or the symptom, of a variety of problems at work or at home. Some work related symptoms which may help managers identify a drink problem are outlined below:- Absenteeism multiple unauthorised absences absence on certain days particularly near weekends or after pay day lateness to work in the morning or at lunchtime leaving early frequent absence from post whilst at work frequent visits to the toilet long tea or coffee breaks Low Performance missed deadlines spasmodic work pace 4

7 poor judgement lack of attention to detail complaints from colleagues unreliability forgetfulness sudden high error rate general deterioration in performance below expected, and previously achieved, work standard Behaviour unpredictable reaction to criticism paranoia irritability depression unpredictable mood swings avoiding colleagues borrowing money physical or verbal abuse of colleagues Health large amounts of sick leave frequent occurrences of certain illnesses (for example indigestion, headaches and stomach upsets) flushed face hand tremors general physical incapacity memory blackouts 5

8 excessive sweating smell of alcohol lack of concern for personal appearance/hygiene Accidents A high and/or increasing incidence of accidents both in and out of work. It must be emphasised that everyone occasionally exhibits some work performance problems. These may be due to factors other than drink, for example stress or a medical condition. Check whether a working situation exists which may account for the employee being stressed (lack of support, deadlines, etc); or perhaps they have a personal problem to deal with that is causing difficulties. What you are looking for is a pattern of problems over a period of time. The more signs that are exhibited, the greater the likelihood of there being a drink problem. 3. Dealing with a Problem Drinker Role of the Manager As a manager you should seek to:- set a good example through responsible use of alcohol. be aware of and identify any aspects of the work situation which could contribute to alcohol misuse and take action to change them. be familiar with the policy and guidelines. ensure that staff are fully conversant with both disciplinary rules and the policy on Drugs and Alcohol at Work and therefore understand what is expected from them. be aware of the effects of alcohol misuse and be alert to and monitor changes in work performance and attendance, sickness and accident patterns. intervene early when there are signs of problems. adopt a non-judgemental approach and use sensitive interviewing skills to ascertain whether alcohol is the underlying cause of work problems. 6

9 be clear about whether the policy on Drugs and Alcohol at Work affects the operation of the disciplinary procedure in the face of alcohol-related problems. refer staff for assistance as appropriate. What To Do If a member of your staff appears to be exhibiting some of the problems outlined in the previous section, and you believe the cause is related to drink, then begin to keep a record of these incidents. This record-keeping will help in two ways:- It will show up any pattern of problems over a period of time, which is what you are looking for, not isolated incidents of over-indulgence. It will provide documentary evidence of poor performance, whatever the underlying reasons. Your record-keeping may prove your suspicions to be wrong, or it may indicate that a discussion is required with the individual to sound out the situation: meet the employee in private. concentrate on the instances of poor performances that have been identified. ask for the employee s reasons for poor performance and question whether it could be due to a health problem, without specifically mentioning alcohol in the first instance. discuss possible work-related causes such as workload or responsibility. if appropriate, discuss the Council s policy on Drugs and Alcohol at Work and the help available inside and outside the Council. The outcome of this informal discussion should lead you to one of the following courses of action:- No further action if the informal discussion has shown that your fears were unfounded; there may be a problem, but not one based on alcohol misuse. No further action should be taken under this document, but other action may still be necessary. Deal with the problem as you would normally. Your fears about drinking were founded, but the problems relate to inappropriate drinking rather than to alcohol misuse. Deal with the problem in the normal way. 7

10 Your fears were founded and you believe alcohol misuse is the reason. You may find that deciding on the last option can be very difficult. Some individuals resist confronting a drink problem and will strongly deny any such allegations. Where alcohol misuse is concerned, you may feel that you need some help in either making a decision or persuading the employee you believe has a drink problem to accept and agree to undertake treatment. For help in solving these problems you can contact:- Human Resources The Occupational Health provider, via Human Resources Refer the employee to the Employee Assistance Programme Specialist counselling skills are necessary to help someone with a drink problem. It may be in the employee s best interests for them to seek external specialist counselling and treatment, although this may not necessarily be the decided course of action. Support Senior management and HR recognise the difficulty of your position, and you should not hesitate to seek support from your HR Business Partner. Continued support of the individual throughout the whole process is vital; obviously from you and the agency involved in treatment but also consider the help available from family (parents or spouse), social workers and any other supportive systems available to the employee. General The Council believes alcohol misuse problems should, where practicable, be treated as a health issue and not as one of conduct. What if the employee accepts referral and treatment, but the outcome is unsuccessful? It may be appropriate to offer a second chance, but if all else fails you may need to initiate capability procedures or ill-health termination. You will need to contact your HR Business Partner before taking such action. 4. Drinking Offences Whilst this guide concentrates on alcohol misuse/problem drinking as an ill-health issue, there are times when inappropriate drinking needs to be dealt with as a question of conduct. Such offences include being drunk at work or drinking at work. 8

11 Having a drink at lunchtime will not necessarily constitute one of the above, as long as this type of drinking does not have an adverse effect on the afternoon s work, for example at meetings, driving and supervising others. However, if an employee operates machinery as part of their role they should not consume alcohol during working hours. Version Number Creation Date Changes Made Changes Authorised by: Date of Changes Version /01/ Version 1.1 Sept 2012 Rebranded to City HR Team Sept

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