Workplace drink and drugs guidelines launched

9th November 2012

IMPACT is supporting Irish Congress of Trade Union (ICTU) proposals for consistent and ethical workplace drug and alcohol policies. ICTU says stressful, unsocial, monotonous or highly-pressurised work environments can contribute to drug or alcohol misuse by employees and insists employers must recognise this reality.

ICTU’s legal affairs officer Esther Lynch said ICTU has encouraged employers to engage with workers and their unions to identify areas where work or work organisation could contribute to alcohol or drug misuse. She says workplace drug and alcohol policies should ensure that problems are dealt with early, effectively, consistently and in a non-judgmental way.

ICTU’s comprehensive list of guidelines for negotiating fair and legal drug and alcohol policies identifies stress, excessive work pressure, unsocial hours and monotony as contributing factors for workers starting to drink more or abuse drugs.

Ms Lynch said disciplinary action should be a last resort, explaining that tribunals and courts may find a dismissal unfair “if an employer has made no attempt to help an employee with a problem where work factors are a clear contributory factor.”

“What we need instead is a comprehensive workplace policy that offers support, not punishment. Our guide aims to help trade unions to see that effective policies are pursued at work, to prevent substance abuse and help those who may have become dependent on alcohol or drugs,” she said.

Paddy Cole