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Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. (2020) Managing drug and alcohol misuse at work. London: CIPD.

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The CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development. This report provides an overview of current employer practice in preventing and managing drug and alcohol misuse at work. It examines why the argument for greater employer support and preventative action around drug and alcohol misuse is stronger than ever. In addition to the report, we recommend you read our accompanying guideline manager guidanceline manager training top tips and training scenarios to inform and support your approach to managing drug and alcohol misuse. 

The report reveals that, while most organisations have specific drug and alcohol policies, only a small minority of them provide information on sources of support for employees. However, the impact of providing support is clear. For example, our survey found that for those employers who had referred an employee to rehabilitation support, 69% had remained working for the organisation. 

Key highlights from the report include:

Managing drug and alcohol misuse is an important area for employers to address

  • Just over a third of employers have disciplined someone in the past two years for alcohol misuse and just over a quarter for drug misuse.
  • Around a fifth of employers have dismissed someone in the last two years where a significant reason was drug and/or alcohol misuse.

Few employers provide line manager training and support

  • Around three-quarters of organisations have a specific drugs and/or alcohol policy, but few train line managers about their drug and alcohol policies and procedures (12% provide one-off training for line managers and 25% provide regular refresher training).
  • Just three in ten employers provide guidelines for managers on how to deal with disclosure and how to signpost to support.
  • However, investments in line manager capability were rated highly in terms of effectiveness in helping prevent drug and alcohol misuse.

Managing drug and alcohol misuse at work does not always consider employee wellbeing

  • Just over half of employers view alcohol and drug misuse as a combined performance/disciplinary and health, safety and well-being issue.
  • Around a fifth of employers see alcohol and drug misuse as mainly a performance/disciplinary issue.

Employee disclosure increases the provision of employer support  

  • Support is more likely to be provided, and disciplinary action avoided, when an employee themselves discloses a drug or alcohol problem. 
  • However, just over a quarter of employers provide information for employees about disclosing a problem with alcohol and/or drugs (27%).   

Alcohol is commonly available at official work social events 

  • Most employers (84%) said official organisation social events typically involve alcohol, with just 14% saying they don’t. 
  • Almost half of employers said having alcohol at social events generally has a positive effect.  
  • A quarter of HR professionals said some people don’t go to social events because of the expectation to consume alcohol.   

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