UCL Human Resources


Alcohol and Drug Misuse



1. It is recognised at UCL that a substance or alcohol problem may be an illness. This Policy exists to ensure such problems are dealt with effectively and consistently.

2. This policy outlines the expectations UCL places on its employees with regards to alcohol and controlled substances and provides advice and guidance on how any issues arising from alcohol or substance misuse should be handled.

3. It aims to support employees with an alcohol or substance misuse problem to seek treatment and rehabilitation.


4. This policy relates to all employees of UCL and covers both alcohol and substance misuse, which in the context of this policy includes drug misuse. Substance misuse may also include addiction to prescription medication, where this has an adverse affect on an individual’s performance at work.

5. Where the conduct or work performance of an employee is adversely affected by excessive alcohol intake or substance misuse and the employee recognises they have a medical dependency because they are seeking help, or have been diagnosed and are receiving treatment, this policy will apply.

6. Where the conduct or work performance of an employee is adversely affected by excessive alcohol intake or substance misuse and the employee is shown not to be suffering from a medical dependency, or is unwilling to seek help, the UCL Managing Sickness Absence or Disciplinary Policies may be more appropriate.


7. UCL employees are expected to behave responsibly at all times and to safeguard their own health & safety and that of those around them. It is the responsibility of individuals to ensure that their performance at work is not affected by alcohol consumption or substance misuse.

8. It is in the interests of UCL, its partners and employees, that any employee suffering from alcohol dependence or substance misuse is encouraged to seek specialist help as soon as possible and every effort will be made to assist them to do so.

9. Employees working with machinery or driving in the course of their work must not consume alcohol during the working day, or shift, and should ensure that their performance is not impaired by alcohol consumed prior to starting work.

10. As a research intensive university, some employees will be required to work with controlled substances and will be expected to do so in accordance with licensing and safety guidelines. UCL Safety Services can provide appropriate information and/or training to enable employees to undertake their work without compromising their own safety or that of others.

11. Where the effects of an employee’s alcohol dependence and/or substance addiction are evident in the course of disciplinary proceedings, consideration will be given as to whether it is appropriate to continue with the disciplinary process.

12. In the event that an employee who is known to suffer from illness arising from alcohol dependence or substance misuse commits a disciplinary offence, account will be taken of the individual’s co-operation in treatment, and any other mitigating factors, when deciding what action, if any, should be taken under the UCL Disciplinary Policy.

13. In situations where an employee is found to have been in possession of a controlled substance, not related to their work, or to have supplied a controlled substance to others, disciplinary action will be taken and information will be passed to the police.

14. Where an employee is diagnosed as suffering from illness arising from alcohol dependence or substance misuse, time off for recovery will usually be treated in the same way as absence for any other medical condition and will qualify for Sick Pay as per the UCL Managing Sickness Absence Policy.

15. Any action taken in accordance with this procedure will be dealt with in confidence.

Employee responsibilities

16. Employees who are concerned that they may be impaired by the effects of alcohol dependence or substance misuse are encouraged to seek urgent specialist medical help through their GP or the Employee Assistance Programme.

17. If they feel able to, they should also speak to their line manager who will be able to provide additional support under this policy and make a referral to UCL Occupational Health Service for advice.

18. Employees who are involved in safety critical work have a duty to refrain from undertaking such activities where their own safety, or the safety of others, may be compromised.

Manager responsibilities

19. Managers who become aware of, or suspect that, an employee’s performance is impaired by the effects of alcohol dependence or substance misuse, should review the work activity of the employee and contact their Human Resources Consultant as soon as possible.

20. A meeting with the employee should be arranged to discuss any concerns about their performance, attendance and health and they should be informed they are entitled to be accompanied by a workplace colleague or trade union representative if they wish.

21. The employee should be provided with information about the Employee Assistance Programme and referred to UCL Occupational Health Service for advice on fitness for work.

22. The employee should be made aware of the UCL Alcohol and Substance Misuse and Sickness Absence Policies and the support available to them under these policies.

23. Notes should be made of any agreed action and a copy sent to Human Resources Advisory Services.

24. Regular meetings should be held to monitor progress and discuss any further problems if they arise.

25. Where the employee agrees to co-operate in a treatment programme, the required improvement in work performance will be outlined in writing. This may include the requirement for a follow up appointment with UCL Occupational Health Service. In the event that an employee suffers a relapse after completion of, or during, treatment the case will be considered in light of its individual circumstances.

26. Redeployment of an employee diagnosed with alcohol dependency or substance misuse problems will be considered where appropriate. Consultation involving the individual, Human Resources Advisory and (where the employee wishes) a trade union representative, will take place before any decision on possible redeployment is made.

27. Where an employee fails to respond to treatment and conduct or work performance continues to be affected, it may be necessary to consider termination of employment. A panel will be convened to consider the case under the appropriate policy, i.e. UCL Managing Sickness Absence Policy or UCL Disciplinary Policy.

Monitoring and Review

28. The HR Division will keep the monitoring and operation of this policy and procedures under review.

HR Employment Policy
May 2014