Members across the estate may have noticed that changes to the alcohol and substance misuse policy were posted on the intranet in January. These changes flag up several efforts designed by official side to ensure that the policy follows the best practice in offering support to those affected by such abuse. These practices also help to ensure that substance misuse does not affect the individual's performance or the performance of those around them. The changes were not issued with agreement from trade union side.
Quite apart from the sections of the new policy relating to not drinking any amount of alcohol before entering the workplace (which PCS has opposed for many years) there are other aspects of the new policy where representatives from trade union side are hoping that some meaningful changes might still be made, to truly bring it in line with best health and welfare practices.
Alcohol abuse (dry) policies tend to have a focus almost entirely on support for those affected; in those policies, alcohol abuse is treated as an illness or malady which requires procedures in place that encourage those affected to seek help and support. PCS felt that the new policy, as drafted, places more of an emphasis on discipline. There are also aspects of the policy relating to prescribed and non-prescribed medicines that could be updated in light of recent changes to the law.
At the partnership forum in late January, a commitment was given by the official side to look again at the policy, with TUS reps tasked with revisiting the draft in the light of exemplar practice elsewhere. Eventually a joint statement will be issued between trade union side and official side flagging up any disagreements that remain, as required by the partnership agreement.
If you do have any concerns about alcohol or drug abuse don’t forget you can have a confidential chat with any of your branch reps, who are here to help you as much as possible.