Why you should promote alcohol awareness at work and how to create an alcohol policy

​​​​​​​​As an employer, you can help employees avoid having an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. This can benefit both them and your organisation as a whole.

It is estimated that the loss of productivity due to alcohol misuse in Scotland is £866 million per year.

Here you can find information on why you should promote alcohol awareness at work and how to create an alcohol policy.

Why promote alcohol awareness at work?

For most people, drinking responsibly can be part of a balanced lifestyle. However, the inappropriate use of alcohol can damage the health and wellbeing of a person.

It can also have far-reaching effects on their personal and working life.

If not addressed, it can lead to things such as:

  • absence and ill health
  • accidents and injuries
  • reduced productivity
  • reduced morale amongst colleagues
  • damage to reputation

You are also required by law, as an employer, to address the issue of alcohol in the workplace.

Relevant legislation includes:

  • Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974
  • Road Traffic Act 1988

Creating an alcohol policy

One of the best ways to address the possible risk of alcohol abuse by employees in your organisation is to create an alcohol policy.

It clarifies everyone’s rights and responsibilities.

It also allows any problems relating to alcohol to be dealt with in a positive and consistent manner.

The policy should be available to everyone. It should also be applied to all employees, regardless of status.

It should clearly state:

  • the rules about alcohol in your organisation
  • how issues will be dealt with
  • what support will be offered
  • when disciplinary action would be taken
  • when the policy was created and when it will be reviewed
  • a commitment to confidentiality

​Provide training

An online managers training programme for Alcohol and Drugs in the Workplace is available.

It can be used by all of your employees to raise awareness.

You can access this via the NHS Health Scotland Virtual Learning Environment (external site). You will need an account to access the course.

This e-learning course can also form part of a blended learning option for managers, together with a face-to-face training day.

You can use our training and events section to find what is on near you.

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Find out more

Healthy Working Lives’ Promoting an alcohol- and drugs-free working environment booklet contains useful information on implementing an alcohol and drugs policy at work.

Public Health Scotland’s Making a Change booklet (external site) contains useful information on alcohol, its effects and information to support people in making changes for themselves.

Alcohol Focus Scotland's factsheet (external site) has information on what to include in a workplace alcohol policy, and the benefits of having a good policy for employers and employees alike.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) (external site) also provides information on managing drug and alcohol misuse at work including advice on screening and supporting staff

The British Heart Foundation (external site) has a booklet you can download from their website, providing guidance on writing an alcohol policy, and ideas for events and activities to help raise awareness amongst staff.