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Employees say 'cheers' to BT's stand on booze and drugs

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BT keeps telling us what a great company it is. And here's proof of the spirit of this caring, sharing company. In an email sent to managers at BT Retail, it advises senior staff how to deal with drugs and alcohol problems among staff.

Unfortunately, this isn't just an altruistic gesture - it's meant to "reduce absenteeism, improve performance and lower accident rates" at BT.

So does this mean BT has a drink and drugs problem among its staff? Is working at BT so bad that they need a quick pick-me-up just to get through the day? Or is it that they're just a bunch of good-time workers who like nothing more than having a stiff drink at work before calling "Keiko" and the other girls whose cards litter BT's phone boxes just yards outside its London HQ?

Not so, said a BT spokesman. "BT or BT Retail does not have any particular issues related to staff and drugs/alcohol," he said.

Glad to hear it. So why the email?

Anyhow, on a more serious note, it seems BT does have a responsible attitude to the problem of drug and alcohol abuse believing that both should be treated as "health problems".

However it won't tolerate drug taking or trafficking on its premises - presumably, that has to be done outside.

As we strive to reduce absenteeism, improve performance and lower accident rates it is important to reinforce BT Retail's approach towards alcohol and drug abuse.

Whilst there is no evidence to suggest that BT Retail has any particular issues with problem drinking/drug/substance abuse, inevitably some managers will encounter the problem within their teams day to day operations and will understand that this can lead to serious problems with health and performance at work. Additionally in many instances drug and substance abuse will involve recognition that unlawful activity has taken place. Therefore we must ensure BT Retail fully meets its obligations in this respect.

Alcohol
Problem drinking should normally be dealt with as a health problem. If someone is considered to have a drink problem, whether or not this is affecting the standard of their work or their level of attendance, their line manager should
a) at the earliest opportunity counsel the individual sympathetically
b) urge them to consult their
* General Practitioner
* the Occupational Health Service and
* Employee Assistance Programme for advice.

Drugs / Substance misuse
As with Alcohol misuse where health problems related with drugs / substance misuse are suspected, confidential assistance can also be sought through BT's Occupational Health Service. Appropriate support is also available through the Employee Assistance Programme. In addition Managers can also seek advice and support from e-peopleserve's Employee Assistance Management (EAM). The EAM have a team of specialist Counselling Consultants available to provide counselling consultancy services for managers if individuals with counselling and related issues including drug and alcohol problems.

Discipline
However, the possession or misuse of unlawful drugs on BT premises will be treated as a serious offence and should be dealt with in accordance with BT's General Disciplinary Procedure. Any evidence of drugs trafficking on BT premises should be referred, in the first instance, to the BT Security Control Centre. Managers should also make their people aware of the 'Tell Us' line which can be contacted by their teams to, confidentially, report any such concerns.

Any conviction for off duty substance misuse related crime will be dealt with in accordance with BT's policy "Offences not Directed Against BT". ®

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