Alcohol at work

Health protection

The employer is obliged to protect the health of his employees. This duty requires the employer to combat alcohol at work. An employee who comes to work under the influence of alcohol is likely to cause damage and endanger his or her colleagues. The employer must take measures to protect them. In addition, in event or night environments, it is common for employees to be confronted with alcohol on a daily basis. Employers must ensure that employees who work in nightclubs, bars or other venues are not forced to consume alcohol at work.


Decreased quality of work, inappropriate behaviour... The employer may sometimes suspect that his employee has consumed alcohol before or during working hours or breaks. A blood alcohol test seems to be the ideal way of substantiating these suspicions. Such a test is likely to infringe on the privacy and personal data of the employee. Testing is only permissible if the employer has overriding safety interests, such as the prevention of occupational accidents.


Where the test is lawful and legitimate, the employer may impose sanctions on an employee who refuses to undergo it. This will be the case if the employee is putting third parties or colleagues at serious risk because of his or her alcohol consumption.

Medical secrecy

Even when a test is lawful, the employer may not use a commercially available breathalyser. He will have to contact a doctor who will be bound by medical secrecy. The doctor may not give the result of the test without further information.


If an employee is under the influence of alcohol at work, the employer may take appropriate action. The severity of the sanction, ranging from a simple warning to immediate dismissal, will depend on the employee's position, whether or not he or she endangered third parties and whether or not he or she committed a second offence.

Alcohol dependence

Alcoholism can be considered an illness and thus an inherent part of the employee's personality. The employer must be vigilant. Depending on the circumstances, dismissal may be considered abusive.

Staff parties

Champagne, a relaxed atmosphere... Staff parties are particularly popular with employees. The risks of over-consumption of alcohol and the resulting abuse are not far away...

Even if it is a party, it is part of a professional setting. The employer is likely to be held liable in the event of an incident. Employees who take their clothes off, employees who put their hands on a colleague's buttocks, drunk driving... The employer must take the necessary measures to prevent these excesses and avoid incurring liability.


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