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Workplace alcohol and drug policy

Congratulations in identifying alcohol and drugs as a workplace issue worthy of addressing in a formal policy. A 2017 report from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation found: 

  • Alcohol and drugs cost Australian workplaces an estimated $6 billion per year in lost productivity.
  • Recent research has estimated that 2.5 million days are lost annually due to drinking and drug use, at a cost of more than $680 million.

Having worked as a HR Manager administering policies to diverse employee groups, my personal opinion is that you want a comprehensive document, although with not so much content that the key message is buried or missed. What is included in your policy will depend on the perceived extent of alcohol and drug use, assessment of associated risks and the individual requirements of your workplace. Here’s my suggestion on topic headings for inclusion:

Purpose and objectives of the drug and alcohol policy

The policy should clearly state its intent to prevent drug and alcohol-related incidents and foster safe behaviours at work.

Scope of the policy

It should be clear that the policy applies to everyone at the workplace: persons conducting a business or undertaking, directors, workers and consultants, as well as visitors, clients, customers and contractors.

Confidentiality statement

The policy should clearly recognise a worker’s right to confidentiality and that any alcohol or drug test results or penalties will be held in the strictest confidence.

A ban on drug and alcohol use in the workplace

Your policy should explicitly state that using drugs or drinking alcohol while on duty is not tolerated.

How any alcohol or drug testing will be implemented

Content should include under what circumstances testing will be undertaken, how any testing will be conducted, whether the program includes random testing (or for cause) and what testing method will be used.

Disciplinary actions

The policy should clearly set out what constitutes an infringement in relation to the policy and what happens when an infringement occurs.

Safeguards for medication

If a worker is taking medication that has the potential to adversely impact on safety, they must notify their supervisor or manager.  

There’s a number of other headings you might consider in a workplace alcohol and drug policy. These include a provision for employee education and assistance for those with an existing alcohol or substance addition.

Bare Bones Consulting specialises in HR documents and policies for SME’s. We can draft a single policy or procedure to address an existing challenge or provide advice on a suite of HR policies; tailored to your business size, type and operating environment. We work under the premise of simplicity, value for money and getting it right first time. Sound good? Damn straight. Call us today or shoot us an email here


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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.