Workplace Alcohol Policy: Factors To Consider When Creating One
18 August, 2023
Drinking alcohol is a popular pastime for many people. It is not uncommon for people to have a casual drink with a meal or when out with friends. However, alcohol carries risks with its use. Intoxicated employees are more prone to accidents and mistakes. A workplace alcohol policy will maximise safety and efficiency if properly written. The factors to consider when creating this policy are the tolerance level and the penalties for non-compliance.
Any safety measures need to be spelled out in the policy. A simple breathalyser test coming into work, for example, will ensure employees are sober when they begin the day. Explaining this to employees will help them understand the importance of procedures and staying sober on the job. This article will present the factors to consider when making an alcohol policy. It will also cover what to include and the risks of having a bad policy.
Factors to Consider When Making a Workplace Alcohol Policy
Every company should have a workplace alcohol policy. Even if the job is low-risk or employees do not seem likely to drink, establishing the policy will help ensure that it never becomes an issue. When setting it up, there are a few factors the employer needs to consider.
Firstly, determine the tolerance level. If your company works in a dangerous environment or uses heavy machinery, there should be a zero-tolerance policy. Employees should never have alcohol in their system in these types of jobs. The risks and consequences of accidents are very dire. If you work in a lower-threat environment like an office, it may be acceptable to have some alcohol. Having a beer at lunch, for example, may be safe.
Secondly, decide the penalties for those who do not comply with the policy. If the risk is severe enough, it may warrant firing them. In other cases, the company may just reprimand them. You can also consider sending them to training regarding alcohol. This can help them get better and learn about responsible alcohol use.
There are a number of advantages to having a robust alcohol policy.
- It maximises safety by ensuring employees are always in control of themselves and functioning with maximum awareness.
- It improves efficiency by ensuring employees are at their top mental condition while working.
- It protects the company from liability by reducing the risk of workplace accidents.
- It builds a culture of responsibility and safety.
- It lets employees know that the company cares about them and wants them to be safe and well.
- It allows the company to address workplace alcohol violations by helping employees or, if necessary, firing them.
Risks of a Bad Workplace Alcohol Policy
The quality of a workplace alcohol policy will affect how useful it is at keeping the area safe. If it leaves out anything important, it opens the door to incidents. Employees may misinterpret the rules, either accidentally or intentionally.
If the policy does not keep employees in line, they may cause accidents. A policy that leaves loopholes or does not address drinking properly can result in workers drinking before or at work. This can be disastrous. Even if someone does not get hurt, it creates a workplace culture of drinking. This makes the environment less effective at getting the job done.
Another drawback of a bad policy is having unenforceable consequences. Penalties for drinking need to be clear and testing procedures properly outlined. If they are not, employees who drink may not be held accountable for their actions. They need to understand what can happen if they drink on the job. At the same time, the company needs to be able to protect itself and its other employees from those who increase risks and hazards.
Dangers of Alcohol
People widely consume alcohol safely, but it is not without risks. Alcohol use can lead to dire situations. Excessive consumption over a long time can cause significant health problems. It can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system. It can also cause depression and memory issues.
Short-term alcohol consumption can be dangerous too. Drink driving often results in someone’s death or injury, not to mention property damage. Someone who is intoxicated may also become violent or clumsy, hurting others or causing accidents. The lack of control and poor decisions makes intoxication a big hazard.
What to Include in a Workplace Alcohol Policy
A good workplace alcohol policy needs to include a number of things. Firstly, it should define the company’s views towards alcohol. If there is a zero-tolerance policy, that needs to be stated. If some alcohol consumption is allowed during certain occasions, like having a beer at lunch, the policy should be explicit. Establishing this ground rule and framing it in terms of safety and efficiency will help employees understand its importance.
Secondly, outline testing procedures. If you plan to test employees every day before they start work with a breathalyser, explain this in the policy so they know what to expect. It may also be wise to include scenarios where additional testing is required, like if there is an accident.
Finally, be clear on the consequences. State what will happen to employees who do not comply with the policy. This may be a reprimand, mandating they take alcohol training, or even firing them. Reiterate the importance of safety and how drinking on the job can injure people, or worse.
Tips for Making Policy
To start making a policy, find a template or outline. This will help you use proper phrasing and remind you of all the areas the policy should cover. A good template will set you up for success.
It is always best to consult a legal team to review your alcohol policy. They can advise you on rules surrounding testing employees and punishing those who do not comply. Once they approve it, distribute it to everyone in the company and have them sign it to acknowledge they understand. New employees should read and sign the policy before starting their first day at work.
Safety is crucial to any workplace. Employees need to feel safe while working so that they can focus on their job without excess worry. Employers need to protect their workers and provide an acceptable environment for them to complete their job. Drugs and alcohol are some of the most common issues a workplace can have regarding safety. Having a good workplace alcohol policy is critical to achieving this level of safety and avoiding accidents due to intoxication.
Alcohol policies need to include certain things to ensure they are effective. A company needs to establish its acceptable level of tolerance so employees know they should not drink on the job. Laying out expectations for testing and penalties will establish a shared understanding throughout the company. If a policy does not properly describe the rules, it will not sufficiently protect the workplace. Make sure to review your company’s policies to ensure that they maximise safety and efficiency.