Regulations on alcohol and drug use Radboud University

Collegiality, integrity, equality, respect, openness and attention to each other are of key importance to the Radboud University and it seeks to offer a same (work) environment for its students, staff members and visitors. Creating a healthy work environment is essential to this end. It is therefore the responsibility of the University if, for example, the use of alcohol and/or drugs by staff members has a negative influence on the circumstances of colleagues, students and external parties.

Alcohol consumption on campus is not prohibited, but limited to socially acceptable gatherings, such as socials, special lunches, dinners and celebrations. During these meetings, there also have to be sufficient attractive non-alcoholic alternatives, so that having an alcoholic drink becomes less self-evident.

In addition, it is not the intended for alcohol consumption at work or elsewhere to interfere with the proper performance of duties or dealing appropriately with staff, students and external parties.

The following principles apply to the use of alcohol and drugs by employees at Radboud University:

No alcohol on campus before 15:30. 

Alcohol may only be served by the Food & Beverage Department from 15:30 onwards. Only at academic ceremonies can an exception to this be made. 

Staff members are responsible for their own health and wellbeing

We are all responsible for (social) safety in the workplace and the continued employability of colleagues. This does not mean that each staff member does not also have a personal responsibility towards their colleagues and towards the organisation. If it appears that due to the consumption of alcohol and/or other narcotics a staff member cannot function well or responsibly (anymore), then the organisation is allowed to comment on this and can, for example, refer the staff member to company social work or the Occupational Health Officer.

Staff members will themselves look for professional help if the staff member is dependant on alcohol and/or drugs or at risk of dependency

A staff member can apply for help themselves, but they can also ask for help through the employer in the resolution of their problems. In addition, the University can voluntarily offer help.  Through the University, staff members can contact the Occupational Health Officer or a company social worker at the Department of Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Service (AMD) (link and telephone number). Together with the staff member, the aid workers will consider what help is needed and who should provide it.

The supervisor will enter into conversation with a staff member if they're not functioning well. This applies when dysfunction or the threat of dysfunction is suspected to be as consequence of alcohol and/or drug use

Timely intercession of a supervisor with a staff member to talk about their behaviour and reduced work performance provides the best chance of preventing the situation from getting worse. During this meeting, the supervisor can also refer to the aid agencies of the University that the staff member can visit, such as the Occupational Health Officer/social worker or the Campus Psychologist, for example.

This is important both for the staff member concerned and the department in which they work. If staff members wait too long to ask for help, they may end up facing disciplinary procedures that could have been avoided.


Those with drinking or drug problems often wait until people in their immediate environment call them out before addressing their problems. It is most effective to call a person out in a direct way, without digressions or discussions. It helps if, when supervisors and colleagues call someone out on their use of alcohol/drugs, the user is made aware of the negative consequences of their behaviour. If the supervisor and/or colleagues do not act, the risks may be one of the following:

  • the situation may worsen for the person concerned;
  • tasks may be automatically assigned to colleagues and the actual job of the person concerned becomes void;
  • the risk of unsafe behaviour and making mistakes increases;
  • the department may get irritated for having to accommodate for the extra work;
  • disciplinary actions taken against the person concerned may feel so unexpected to them that it may be an additional reason to resort to alcohol or drug abuse.

The intent is, of course, to avoid judicial consequences as much as possible and to provide all the help that is available within the University. If this does not work, then the University has the option of attaching consequences to the use of alcohol, drugs, magic mushrooms or certain other narcotic or stimulating substances under employment law if it has an effect on the work performance or if it causes dereliction of duty. The consultant and/or the employment lawyer can advise the supervisor on this.

As a result of aforementioned policy, two guidelines have been drawn up for supervisors that set out how to deal with this issue. The first guideline concerns the actions of a supervisor towards a poorly performing staff member, where there is a well-founded suspicion that this poor performance is the result of alcohol and/or drug abuse. The second guideline concerns direct actions taken by the supervisor towards a staff member who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs (or if there is well-founded suspicion of this) at work.

Guideline 1

Poor performance of a staff member where there is well-founded suspicion that this is the result of alcohol and/or drug abuse

If the supervisor perceives that a staff member may have an alcohol or drug problem or if the supervisor receives indications from other staff members on this issue, it is the supervisor's task to start a discussion with this person. If so desired by the staff member or the supervisor, an HR staff member of confidential advisor can also be present during the meeting.

Prior to the discussion, the supervisor shall identify the work performed - and thus the shortcomings - as specifically as possible. In the discussion, the supervisor shall focus on the poor performance and express suspicion of alcohol or drug use.

The supervisor can also point out the possibilities for seeking help for the substance abuse, without assuming the role of a care provider. The Department of Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Service (the Occupational Health Officer or the company social worker) can advise the supervisor and staff member on expert help. In addition, there is a campus psychologist who might also provide assistance.

It is important that the supervisor remains calm and reasonable throughout the conversation, but firm too. The supervisor must be able to demonstrate that the staff member’s performance has decreased in terms of quantity or quality. The following can be pointed out:

  • Being late;
  • Frequent absence;
  • Stopping work irregularly and/or too early;
  • Decreased productivity;
  • Errors, inaccuracy, unreliability;
  • Accidents;
  • Disruptive behaviour;
  • Changed attitude and behaviour.

The supervisor does not have to hide their concern about the staff member. The supervisor may insist on seeking expert help and treatment. The key here is not to force, but to be firm. The basic principle is that work performance should be improved. Alcohol or drug problems may explain the poor performance but are not an excuse.

The supervisor will make a meeting report on this meeting, which will be signed by the staff member for agreement.

If the staff member denies any issues during the interview, the supervisor must indicate that – in view of the diminished work performance – they will contact the HR advisor. If, according to the staff member, the dysfunctional behaviour stems from a different (medical) reason other than alcohol or drug use, than the staff member can turn to the Occupational Health Officer. The HR advisor shall consult with the Occupational Health Officer about potential measures under employment before advising their supervisor.

In all cases, the supervisor shall periodically, and in any event during the annual appraisal interview, assess whether the agreements made in the discussion are being complied with and if the consequences of it are visible in the staff member’s performance.

Guideline 2

Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs (or if there is a well-founded suspicion of this) at work

If the supervisor suspects that a staff member is under the immediate influence of alcohol and/or drugs during working hours, the supervisor will speak to them at once. It is important that the step-by-step plan is followed carefully.

The step-by-step plan in the event of recognising the staff member to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs:

  1. The supervisor notes the signs of alcohol or drug use.
  2. The supervisor talks to the staff member and urgently recommends seeking help (from the company social worker, Campus Psychologist or Occupational Health Officer). The supervisor points out the possibility of a guidance process.
  3. A written report of this conversation shall be made.
  4. The supervisor sends the staff member home.
  5. The supervisor considers whether disciplinary measures are necessary. (link to document with possible disciplinary measures)
  6. The HR department is informed.

The step-by-step plan if the staff member denies being under the influence of alcohol or drugs:

  1. The supervisor notes the signs of alcohol or drug use.
  2. The supervisor calls a witness; preferably another supervisor or an HR advisor.
  3. The supervisor talks to the staff member and discusses the support of company social work or the option of having the Occupational Health Officer call them in connection with a counselling programme to tackle a chronic alcohol/drug problem.
  4. The supervisor sends the staff member home.
  5. If the staff member denies being under the influence, then the staff member is given the opportunity to prove it by means of a blood, urine or breath test. The Department of Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Service (AMD) shall then perform this test. The Occupational Health Officer will only inform the staff member of the result. The staff member decides whether to submit the results to their supervisor.
  6. The supervisor considers whether any disciplinary actions are necessary. This is certainly the case if the test shows that the staff member was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  7. The supervisor draws up a written report of the events.
  8. The HR department is informed.

The supervisor informs the staff member of the possibility of submitting a complaint if they object to the way in which the process was handled.