Alcohol and the workplace

Alcohol can impair judgement. It can also affect conduct and performance. All employees have a duty to ensure that they are fit for work and are expected to perform and act at a reasonable level. If, as a result of excessive or inappropriate alcohol consumption, they cannot discharge their responsibilities safely and to a satisfactory standard or they behave inappropriately then suitable action will be taken. This may include applying the disciplinary procedure.

The definition of what constitutes a sensible level of drinking will depend on the work being undertaken as well as each employee’s physiology. However, it is expected that employees will err on the side of caution in ensuring that alcohol does not affect safety or performance. Examples where no alcohol should be consumed either during work hours or where employees should not be under the influence of alcohol whilst at work (“exclusion zones”) include:

  • Positions where the level of precision required may mean that a person must be able to operate equipment at such a high level of performance that they even have to abstain from alcohol during their leisure time;
  • Positions within laboratories or any areas dealing with harmful / flammable / explosive substances;
  • Positions using machinery;
  • Customer Service roles;
  • Positions which require the employee to drive a vehicle;
  • Where the employee has been given a specific instruction from their manager not to consume alcohol at the workplace.

The University does not impose a complete ban on alcohol at work or during meal-breaks for employees outside of the areas stated above. For instance, at a celebration to mark a particular distinction gained by a colleague, or a special event in the life of a department, or when marking the retirement of a colleague, it may be appropriate to toast the event with an alcoholic drink (provided non-alcoholic alternatives are available). However, nothing in this policy should be taken to imply that in any workplace situation the consumption of alcohol is encouraged or recommended or acceptable in every work situation.