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Many people have conditions that require prescribed drugs to help them live a normal life and could not work without them. Taking prescribed drugs at work is not illegal. 

But it is a criminal offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 for any person knowingly to permit the production, supply, possession, and use of controlled drugs on their premises except in specified circumstances such as where they have been prescribed by a doctor. 

It is also illegal to drink alcohol in safety-sensitive jobs or if you drive. 

  • The Transport and Works Act 1992 makes it an offence for certain workers to be unfit through drink or drugs while working on railways, tramways and other guided transport systems. 
  • The Road Traffic Act 1988 makes it an offence for anyone to drive while unfit through drink or drugs. 

Employers also have general duties to protect workers' health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASWA), and to carry out risk assessments under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This would include the use or presence of drugs and alcohol at work if there appears to be a risk to workers. 

Under section 7 of HASWA, employees have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and that of others who might be affected by their acts or omissions at work. 

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.
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