Alcohol & Drugs

Approving Authority:
Date of Approval:
10 July 2002
Last Amended:
August 2007
Contact Officer:
Industrial Relations Advisory Unit
The University recognises that alcohol or other drug use can sometimes become a social and health problem, which can have a negative impact on the working and private lives of those it affects.
It is also possible that the use of alcohol and other drugs could create problems in the workplace such as, but not limited to, increased risk of accidents and other safety issues, absenteeism, diminished performance and productivity, and interpersonal conflict.

The effect of alcohol or other drugs on employees in the workplace may put at risk people, property and the reputation of the University. It is possible that the use of alcohol or other drugs by an employee, could be inconsistent with the UNSW Code of Conduct
for staff. The Code provides that UNSW employees have a general obligation:
" ... to the University in terms of responsible stewardship of its resources and protection of its reputation in the wider community;"
It is also possible that the use of alcohol or other drugs by an employee may be inconsistent with their obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011  which states that employees have a duty to:
" ... take reasonable care for the health and safety of people who are at the employee's place of work and who may be affected by the employee's acts or omissions at work."
It is not the intention of this policy to in any way prohibit the use of alcohol or other drugs, but rather to ensure that as much as possible, any potential negative impact in the workplace arising from their use is minimised. Additionally, the policy should assist both staff and supervisors in understanding their respective obligations when/if an issue with respect to the negative impact of the use of alcohol or other drugs in the workplace arises.
Occasionally it may be appropriate for an employee to seek advice or treatment for any problem they might identify with respect to the use of alcohol or other drug. Such a decision will rest with the employee. However, in certain circumstances it may be appropriate for the University to formally initiate a particular action to remedy an issue that might be having, or has the potential to have, an impact in the workplace.
The following guidelines have been established for employees and supervisors to be cognisant of when dealing with the issue of the negative impact of alcohol or other drugs in the workplace.
Guidelines for Employees:
1. Attend for work unimpaired by alcohol or other drugs so that in carrying out normal work activities employees do not expose themselves or others to unnecessary health and safety risk. Such conduct may be a breach of your obligations as set out in the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011. Such impairment or use may also lead to contravention of state traffic and/or criminal legislation.
2. Some prescribed medication may affect your work. If you or your doctor believe your medication may affect your work, then please advise your manager or supervisor(s). Confidentiality will be maintained where possible.
3. Where suspected alcohol or other drug use by another employee may affect the safety of that employee or others, employees have a strict obligation to report these concerns to their supervisor in the first instance. They should also attempt to dissuade the employee from using plant or machinery or from engaging in other activities that may pose a risk to safety. Confidentiality will be maintained where possible.
4. The decision to seek advice or treatment for an alcohol or other drug related problem will rest with an affected employee. Such employees are encouraged to make use of the Employee Assistance Program. All efforts should be taken to resolve problems or gain assistance in this manner, however, circumstances may warrant the initiation of disciplinary action against an employee.
For further Information or advice on matters related to this issue please contact Human Resources on ext.52711. Staff may wish to access free confidential and professional counseling via the Employee Assistance Program. - call 1300 360 364.
*It should be noted that some illnesses or disabilities such as the onset of diabetic coma or narcolepsy, petit mal epilepsy and the like, may present as though the employee is under the influence of alcohol or other substances.