Workplace alcohol policies

Prevent workplace problems by having a workplace alcohol policy

An article from the Australian Drug Foundation

Alcohol is the most widely used drug in Australia. While most people use alcohol responsibly, many drink in a way that increases the risk of problems occurring.

Alcohol-related problems can affect all aspects of a person's life, including work and regardless of the type of workplace, industry or occupation. Workplace problems due to alcohol use can include increased risk of accidents and injuries, higher levels of absenteeism and productivity losses. There is a common misconception that most alcohol-related problems in the workplace are due to the dependent (addicted) or "problem drinker"; however, recent studies suggest that those who, on occasion, drink much more than usual may be at highest risk of causing adverse workplace events.

The Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) provides more information and resources to support workplaces in developing an effective workplace alcohol policy, including sample policies to download. 

A workplace alcohol policy should be tailored to reflect the individual needs and circumstances of a workplace and should:

  • Aim to eliminate or reduce hazards associated with alcohol use.
  • Be consistent, fair and applicable to everyone in the workplace.
  • Be developed in consultation with managers and employees and/or their representatives.
  • Consider cultural and stress-related factors that contribute to harmful alcohol use, such as peer pressure, easy access to alcohol, poor job design, inadequate supervision and bullying.
  • Be part of an overall occupational health and safety strategy focused on prevention, education, counselling and rehabilitation.

In 2006 the ACTU Executive endorsed the Alcohol and Other Drugs in the Workplace Policy [pdf]. The policy provides a framework for employers and workers to follow when dealing with issues relating to the consumption of alcohol and other drugs and to meet their obligations under relevant OHS legislation.

The ADF has some useful resources:

  • Alcohol and other drugs in the workplacea guide for employees about alcohol and drugs in the workplace
  • Factsheets:
    • Alcohol and other drugs in the workplace [pdf
    • Reducing the risk of workplace alcohol and other drug problems [pdf]
    • and others not relating directly to the workplace

Last amended April 2020