Alcohol At Work Disciplinary UK

Alcohol may play a large part in your employees’ social lives. They may drink together socially after work, wine and dine clients, and even head to the pub during their lunch hour.

Clearly, you cannot police what employees do in their own time. However, when alcohol use starts to impact their productivity and ability to carry out their role, it can pose a significant problem to you, their employer. Many businesses are unsure of their legal position in relation to the issue and whether drinking alcohol at work justifies disciplinary in the UK.

Call us now on 01491 598 600 or email us on and we will be delighted to help you.

What Are The Problems Caused By Alcohol At Work In The UK?

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause a variety of problems for employers. In fact, it is estimated that some 17 million working days are lost each year as a result of alcohol-related illness, at a cost of around £7 billion to the UK economy.

Examples of the types of problems employee alcohol consumption can cause include the following:

  • Reduced productivity.
  • Lateness and absenteeism.
  • Mistakes.
  • Poor behaviour.
  • Morale issues among other employees.
  • Reputational harm.

What Is The Law Relating To Alcohol At Work In The UK?

There is no specific law that addresses alcohol consumption at work in the UK. However, health and safety legislation places employers under a legal obligation to ensure their employee’s wellbeing whilst carrying out their duties. If you are aware that an employee is under the influence of alcohol and may be at risk of harm, you may be in breach of your duties if you take no action to address the issue.

Furthermore, specific industries are subject to additional regulations. For example, the use of alcohol by those employed in the transport industry is rigorously controlled. It is a criminal offence for certain types of workers to be under the influence of alcohol and other substances when carrying out certain tasks. As their employer, you may also find yourself in hot water were a worker to act in contravention of these regulations.

Can Drinking Alcohol At Work Justify Disciplinary In The UK?

Since no specific laws regulate the use of alcohol at work, it is up to each individual employer to create and implement policies to reflect their organisation’s outlook on the issue. Your policies must reflect the nature of the work you carry out. For example, if you operate in the transport industry, you may choose to implement a complete ban on employee alcohol consumption. You may incorporate your policy into your health and safety policy, occupational health policy, or implement it as a standalone policy.

Your policy should state if consuming alcohol at work will be deemed misconduct or even gross misconduct. That way, your employees will know to expect disciplinary action in the event they fail to comply with it.

When you have assessed the risk posed by alcohol consumption at work and put the appropriate policies in place, you should ensure your employees are aware of their obligations and the potential consequences of non-compliance. You can include the policy in your Employee Handbook, attach it to your contracts of employment, and explain it to your employees when they commence work within your organisation.

What Should You Do If You Suspect An Employee Has A Problem With Alcohol?

Excessive alcohol use can have a severely detrimental effect on a person’s wellbeing. As their employer, you may feel you have a moral obligation to offer them support in addressing the problem and seeking the appropriate professional help. Therefore, you may choose to treat the matter as a medical as opposed to a disciplinary one in the first instance. If they do, you should assess the likelihood of the employee overcoming their problem and returning to fulfil their role. If you consider the chances good, you may decide to allow the employee a period of time within which to focus on their recovery.

Alcohol at work and disciplinary UK can be a thorny issue for employers. Our HR advisors specialise in assisting small businesses with this and all other types of workplace issues. We will take the time to understand your business so we can advise on an appropriate alcohol policy. We can also support you in dealing with employees who contravene the policy ensuring your response is fair, reasonable, and lawful.

Our clients’ interests are at the heart of everything we do, and we are proud to have received client feedback praising our ‘great’, reassuring’, and ‘professional’ advice, ‘no-nonsense approach’ and noting that we are ‘affordable but detailed and attentive’.

Call us now on 01491 598 600 or email us on and we will be delighted to help you.

Alcohol At Work Disciplinary UK

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