If you suspect your employee is under the influence while at work, this is a very serious matter and normally viewed as potential gross misconduct. It is crucial that you check the Drug and Alcohol Policy of your organisation and follow the steps outlined.

Is alcohol dependence a disability?

No. The Equality Act 2010 states that ‘addiction to/dependency on alcohol, nicotine or any other substance other than medically prescribed drugs or other medical treatment’ should not be considered a disability.

However, heavy drinking can be a response to mental health issues or physical conditions and can in turn lead to serious health problems. In both instances, these other issues could equate to disabilities under the Equality Act.

If this is the scenario, you need to treat the individual as per anyone else with a serious underlying health condition, including offering reasonable adjustments. Failure to do so could result in a discrimination claim in an employment tribunal.

Racoo Screening works with organisations of all sizes to help implement effective workplace drug and alcohol testing policies that comply with national and, where relevant, international regulations. We also offer a complete drug and alcohol testing service, e-learning packages, and staff training. To find out more, contact us here.