Drugs & Alcohol

1. Introduction

Venesky-Brown are committed to providing a safe, healthy and productive working environment. This includes ensuring that all staff are fit to carry out their jobs safely and effectively in an environment which is free from alcohol and drug misuse.

The purpose of this policy is to increase awareness of the effects of alcohol and drug misuse and its likely symptoms and to ensure that:

  • All staff are aware of their responsibilities regarding alcohol and drug misuse and related problems.
  • Staff who have an alcohol or drug-related problem are encouraged to seek help, in confidence, at an early stage.
  • Staff who have an alcohol or drug-related problem affecting their work are dealt with sympathetically, fairly and consistently.
  • The misuse of drugs and/or alcohol has the potential to cause us reputational damage, lower the standard of service that we provide to our clients and jeopardise health and safety. With this in mind this policy is to be read in conjunction with our Disciplinary Procedure as any use of drugs or alcohol which is deemed as improper by us may result in disciplinary action.

Venesky-Brown will not accept staff arriving at work under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and/or whose ability to work is impaired in any way by reason of the consumption of alcohol or drugs, or who consume alcohol or take drugs (other than prescription or over the counter medication, as directed) on our premises or our client’s premises.

This policy covers all employees, officers, consultants, contractors, casual operatives, agency workers and candidates for employment who are yet to be employed where they are required or will be required to work for our client.

This policy does not form part of any employee’s contract of employment and we may amend it at any time.

You will comply with all instructions and requests concerning drug screening and searches given by our clients as if they were given by us. For the avoidance of doubt, whilst our clients may conduct the drug screening and/or searches our clients do not have the right to take any action against you. Any disciplinary action can only be taken by us.

2. Scope

The scope of this Drugs and Alcohol Policy covers all Venesky-Brown/Vescala/Venesky Brown Consult employees based in office locations and those with a hybrid model of working; covering the administration and management of the supply of professionals in construction, engineering, corporate services, admin, digital and IT.

3. Responsibility

The Company Director has overall responsibility for the effective operation of this policy but has delegated day-to-day responsibility for overseeing its implementation to the Major Projects Manager, and onsite Labour Managers.

All managers have a specific responsibility to operate within the boundaries of this policy, to ensure that all staff understand the standards of behaviour expected of them and to take action when behaviour falls below its requirements.

Managers will, if appropriate, be given training in:

  • The nature and causes of alcohol and drug problems
  • The effect of alcohol and drug misuse on workplace safety and performance
  • The assistance that can be provided by outside agencies

4. Identifying a Problem

If you notice a change in a colleague’s pattern of behaviour you should encourage them to seek assistance through their manager. If they will not seek help themselves you should draw the matter to the attention of your manager. You should not attempt to cover up for a colleague whose work or behaviour is suffering as a result of an alcohol or drug-related problem.

If you believe that you have an alcohol or drug-related problem you should seek specialist advice and support as soon as possible. You should also seek support and guidance from the Venesky-Brown HR Manager if you believe your alcohol or drug-related problem is affecting you at work.

5. Alcohol & Drugs at Work

Misuse of alcohol and drugs can lead to reduced levels of attendance, reduced efficiency and performance, impaired judgement and decision making and increased health and safety risks for you and other people. Irresponsible behaviour or the commission of offences resulting from the misuse of alcohol or drugs may damage our reputation and, as a result, our business.

You are expected to arrive at work fit to carry out your job and to be able to perform your duties safely without any limitations due to the use or after effects of alcohol or drugs (whether prescribed, over the counter or illegal).

You should not drink alcohol during the normal working day, at lunchtime, at other official breaks and at official work-based meetings and events. Drinking alcohol while at work without authorisation or working under the influence of alcohol may be considered serious misconduct.

You must comply with drink-driving laws at all times. Conviction of a drink-driving offence may harm our reputation and, if your job requires you to drive, you may be unable to continue to do your job. Committing a drink-driving offence while working for us or outside working hours may lead to action under our Disciplinary Procedure and could result in dismissal.

If you are prescribed medication you must seek advice from your GP or pharmacist about the possible effect on your ability to carry out your job and whether your duties should be modified or you should be temporarily reassigned to a different role. If so you must tell your line manager without delay.

6. Searches

Venesky-Brown reserves the right to conduct searches for alcohol or drugs on our premises (or for our clients to conduct searches on any of their premises), including, but not limited to, searches of lockers, filing cabinets and desks, bags, clothing and packages.

Any alcohol or drugs found as a result of a search will be confiscated and action may be taken under our Disciplinary Procedure.

7. Drug Screening

All candidates and employees will be asked to participate in a drug screening programme on the terms below:

  • If a person holds an up to date PTS Card (or Sentinel smartcard) they may not need to be screened for drugs before commencing work on our client’s site.
  • If a person has successfully completed a drug screening test with us in the last 12 weeks they may not be required to undertake a pre-employment drug screen unless we have reasonable grounds for requiring a fresh drugs screen.
  • If the person cannot satisfy the above then they will be required to undertake a drug screen within the first 14 days of employment.
  • All employees / candidates will be subject to random drug screening in line with Network Rail Procedures.

All candidates and employees will undertake drug screening whether it is requested of you by us or by our client. Failure by employees/candidates to cooperate with a requested screening could be treated as a positive test and disciplinary action may result.

Drug screening will be conducted by an external provider. Arrangements will be discussed with affected members of staff at the start of each screening programme.

A positive result means the testing for drugs and alcohol shows:

  • The presence of drugs, for which there is no legitimate need for either their use or the quantity or their use;
  • More than 29 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, or
  • More than 13 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, or
  • More than 39 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine.

A positive result may result in disciplinary action including dismissal following an investigation.

8. Managing Suspected Substance Misuse

Where a manager considers that deterioration in work performance and/or changes in patterns of behaviour may be due to alcohol or drug misuse they should seek advice and assistance from the HR Manager.

If your manager has reason to believe that you are suffering the effects of alcohol or drugs misuse, they will invite you to an investigatory interview. The purpose of the interview is to:

  • discuss the reason for the investigation and seek your views on, for example, the deterioration of your work performance and/or behaviour; and
  • where appropriate, offer to refer you to an Occupational Health Provider, Specialist or GP for medical and/or specialist advice.

If you arrive at work and a manager reasonably believes you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they shall immediately contact Human Resources in order that you can be provided with assistance and an initial investigation can be undertaken.

If you agree to be referred to the HR Manager, your manager will request an urgent appointment and prepare a letter of referral, a copy of which will be provided to you.

The HR Manager may ask for your consent to approach your GP for advice. A report will be sent to your manager who will then reassess the reasons for their investigatory meeting with you and decide on the way forward.

If, as the result of the meeting or investigation, your manager continues to believe that you are suffering the effects of alcohol or drugs misuse and you refuse an offer of referral to the Occupational Health Department or appropriate treatment providers the matter may be dealt with under our Disciplinary Procedure.

9. Providing Support

Alcohol and drug-related problems may develop for a variety of reasons and over a considerable period of time.

If an employee recognises that they have an alcohol, drug or substance misuse or dependency problem and voluntarily brings it to the attention of the Company in advance of taking or being requested to take a drug and alcohol test, every effort will be made to support them through the processes detailed below. Employees with a problem will be able to approach their line manager or HR representative for assistance on a totally confidential basis.

We are committed, in so far as possible, to treating these problems in a similar way to other health issues. We will provide support where possible with a view to a return to full duties. This may include:

  • Referral to appropriate treatment providers, where necessary in conjunction with your GP
  • Time off work to attend treatment
  • Adjusting your duties or other support as recommended by your GP or specialist during treatment and for an agreed period thereafter, subject to operational requirements and feasibility

If you do not finish a programme of treatment, or your recovery and return to work does not go as planned, the HR Manager will meet with you to decide what further action if any should be taken.

10. Confidentiality

Venesky-Brown aims to ensure that the confidentiality of any member of staff experiencing alcohol or drug-related problems is maintained appropriately. However, it needs to be recognised that, in supporting staff, some degree of information sharing is likely to be necessary.

If you seek help with an alcohol or drug-related problem directly from Human Resources and you wish to keep matters confidential from your manager and colleagues, this will be respected unless there is reason to believe that this could put you, your colleagues or anyone else at risk or carries some other material risk for the business. In those circumstances the HR Department will encourage you to inform your manager and will give you sufficient time to do so before discussing the matter with them.

11. Performance & Disciplinary Issues

An employee whose drug or alcohol related problem is disclosed during disciplinary proceedings should be aware that the admission of dependency will not result in the suspension of disciplinary action.

Where an employee breaches the policy detailed above, or fails a drug and alcohol test, any such contravention will be dealt with under the Venesky -Brown disciplinary procedure and will be viewed as a serious offence potentially leading to dismissal.

In line with the Venesky Brown disciplinary rules, the following will be regarded as gross misconduct:

  • If tested for drugs or alcohol, providing a positive (failed test) result
  • Falsification of a screening test by tampering with or substituting specimens or by otherwise seeking to change or influence the results.
  • Refusal to comply with any aspect of the drug and alcohol screening procedure, including ‘for cause’ and random screening, without good cause
  • Attending work and/or carrying out duties having alcohol, drugs or addictive substances in their system (unless due to medication prescribed to them by a medical practitioner)
  • Consumption of alcohol or drugs or addictive substances whilst on duty (other than where prescribed and approval has been given)
  • Being in possession of drugs or addictive substances at work (unless medication is prescribed to them by a medical doctor)

In some cases, where appropriate to do so, the offense will also be reported to the police. Any breach of these rules will normally result in summary dismissal, and only in exceptional cases will either dismissal with notice or reduced disciplinary action be applied.

12. Drugs & Alcohol Testing

Alcohol Screening – Breath/Saliva testing for alcohol can be undertaken to ensure individuals are not under the influence of alcohol while at work.

Drug Screening – Drug (Urine) screening may be undertaken in one or two separate tests. The first screening rapidly identifies negative samples. The instant tests are called ‘Multi-Drug Rapid Tests’. A second screening can be sent to a lab for testing and results that screen is negative are reported usually within 48 hours.

Searches – Venesky-Brown reserves the right to conduct searches for alcohol or drugs on our premises (or for our clients to conduct searches on any of their premises), including, but not limited to, searches of lockers, filing cabinets and desks, bags, clothing and packages. Any alcohol or drugs found as a result of a search will be confiscated and action may be taken under our Disciplinary Procedure.

Pre-employment testing is conducted at registration for all employees prior to the commencement of the project, and thereafter in accordance with project requirements. The Onsite Labour Manager may request ‘with cause’ testing or ‘random’ testing as directed by the client.

Individuals refusing to take part in Drug or Alcohol testing are to be informed that such a refusal may be treated as a positive test result and that disciplinary action may follow as a result of their refusal.

Arrangements for ‘with cause’ and ‘random’ testing:

  • With Cause – Requests for ‘with cause’ Drug or Alcohol tests are to be made by the Client Safety Manager of the company concerned. In the case of ‘with cause’ testing the Onsite Labour Manager will obtain from the site/workplace Manager a list of those persons requiring testing.
  • Random – ‘Random’ testing will be implemented by either the Client Safety Manager or Venesky-Brown on-site Labour Manager. In the case of ‘random’ testing the Onsite Labour Manager will obtain separate lists of all directly employed and sub-contractors present on site and hands these to the tester, who selects at random those to be tested. Unless specified otherwise this will be 10% of those present. It is important that, other than establishing that representative sampling will be achieved, no other influence is placed on the tester’s selection.

13. Facilities for Testing

Facilities provided for D&A testing must be in good order.

The ideal set-up for a single tester is:

  • A room large enough to accommodate a table that will seat up to four people comfortably
  • A nearby WC with hand-washing facility, made unavailable for general use for the duration of testing
  • Another room nearby to serve as a waiting room

The minimum requirement is for a room in which to undertake testing, as described above, with a dedicated Portaloo with hand-washing facility nearby.

The Onsite Labour Manager and an HR representative if necessary are to be on site for the duration of the testing.

14. Notification of Testing

Following the identification of need for ‘with cause’ Drug and Alcohol testing, the Onsite Labour Manager will contact the Testing Company to arrange date/time of testing.

15. Undertaking the Test

The Onsite Labour Manager will meet as arranged with the site/workplace manager and the tester. The Onsite Labour Manager briefs the site/workplace Manager and confirms with the tester that the facilities provided meet their needs. Where more than one tester is to work concurrently, the Onsite Labour Manager will liaise with the lead tester to ensure that satisfactory arrangements are in place. In the case of ‘with cause’ testing the Onsite Labour Manager will obtain from the site/workplace Manager a list of those persons requiring testing.

In the case of random testing, individuals should not be made aware at this stage that D&A testing is to be carried out.

The Onsite Labour Manager should brief each person or group upon arrival at the waiting area as to the purpose of the day’s testing, e.g.
“We are carrying out Drug &/or Alcohol testing today. I am (name) from Venesky-Brown and I am here to witness the testing. A representative is here from Venesky-Brown HR Department to witness events and answer any HR-related questions. The Tester works for an independent testing company and they will talk you through the process. Please read the briefing notes provided and if you have any questions at any time please raise them.”

Individuals are to be provided with a copy of and asked to read a briefing note outlining the procedure whilst they are in the waiting area. Individuals identified as having reading and/or English-speaking issues are to be offered assistance, typically their supervisor or a work colleague acting as an interpreter, with test documentation annotated accordingly.

The independent tester will take the lead during the actual test. A minimum of one company witness is required per tester, requiring the presence of the Onsite Labour Manager in the testing room at all times when testing is taking place.

Testing is carried out by an independent tester. The alcohol test is done via a breathalyser which gives an instant result.

The drugs screening is as follows:

The tester asks the individual a series of questions regarding any over-the-counter or prescription medication. (The person being tested has the right to declare their medication in confidence to the tester, in which case other witnesses will be asked to leave the room briefly).

  • The testers use a sealed testing kit for each person tested.
  • The individual is required to provide a urine sample into a pot.
  • The tester accompanies the individual to the designated toilet facilities to ensure that the sample is not tampered with.
  • The tester uses a sealed test kit to screen sample provided for evidence of drugs.
  • The test shows an instant result.
  • Should the test prove positive, the preparation of the sample for detailed laboratory analysis will follow

In the event of a non-negative test result, the sample will be sent to a lab for testing, and results that screen negative are reported usually within 48 hours.

All persons testing non-negative for drugs, including those declaring medication, are to be advised by the Onsite Labour Manager that, pending the findings of the laboratory analysis, they will not be allowed to remain at the site/workplace. Confirmation of results typically takes 3-5 working days.

A person who has been tested positive for drugs or alcohol at this point may be subject to disciplinary action, which could result in dismissal for cases of gross misconduct.

A person who voluntarily comes forward for confidential assistance for a drugs or alcohol problem may be subject to periodic testing for a period of 12 months or until the company deems reasonable after negative screening, administered at random by an external collection agency.

The testing will only be done on a ‘case by case’ basis following medical investigation to ensure that any prescribed course of counselling or rehabilitation is being followed (e.g. where a candidate has completed a counselling or rehabilitation programme and it is necessary to check progress and compliance).