Staff drug and alcohol model policy

The aim of this model policy on staff drug and alcohol use is to provide a framework that schools can adopt to develop a constructive and preventative strategy towards drug or alcohol-related problems among employees.

Model policy

Our model policies and policy checklists are designed to assist NEU reps in negotiating the best employment policies on behalf of our members.

Reps should strive to ensure policies are compliant with the NEU models.

Reps should consult members before agreeing new policies or changes to existing policies and should not agree policies that do not meet member expectations, any statutory requirements and NEU minimums.

Reps should always seek to work collaboratively with other unions. 

Policy checklists should be used in conjunction with our model policies and can be used as a guide for reps when communicating with members over whether a proposed policy is acceptable.

If a policy is unacceptable, members should consider a collective response that may include taking industrial action. For further advice contact your NEU branch.

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Drug and alcohol policy checklist

This checklist should be used alongside the NEU’s model Drug and Alcohol policy to help you negotiate a policy acceptable to the union. You may not be able to secure everything on this checklist – if that is the case, you may wish to consult members on whether the proposed policy is sufficiently positive to be acceptable.


  • Does the policy set out the employer’s overall commitment to safety, good employee relations and the promotion of health, safety, and welfare at work?
  • Is there a commitment from the employer to encourage an open dialogue between the employee and their line manager?


  • Does the policy explain why it’s needed?
  • Does the policy aim to create an environment that encourages who may be misusing drugs or alcohol to come forward and seek help?
  • Does it provide a framework to deal with instances of substance misuse by employees in an appropriate, fair, and consistent manner?


  • Does the policy make clear to whom it applies and what it covers?

Equal opportunities

  • Does the policy make clear that the Drugs and Alcohol policy will be applied in accordance with employment law and the employer’s equal opportunities policy?


  • Who has overall responsibility?
  • Are management and employee responsibilities clearly defined?

At work

  • Is it clear how the employer expects employees to behave to ensure smoking, drugs, alcohol doesn’t affect their work?
  • If the manager reasonably believes that an employee has arrived at work under the influence of alcohol or drugs and sends the employee home after consultation with the headteacher/principal, this absence should be treated as sick leave with full sick pay applied in accordance with the employer’s sick pay policy.
  • It is important to note that an employee who may have a condition such as epilepsy, brain injuries, diseases can at times appear drunk and therefore, due care should be taken to identify and respond to these individuals appropriately.

Outside of work

  • Is the policy clear that employees must not consume intoxicating substances before coming on duty?


  • The arrangements for employees who may need help and support should be set out in the policy.

Breaches of the policy

  • Is there a commitment from the employer that they will adopt a constructive and supportive approach when dealing with employees who may be experiencing drug or alcohol dependency/addiction?
  • It should be clear when disciplinary procedures are likely to be used.


  • Is there a review date?
  • Does it state that recognised trade unions will be consulted?
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