EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Luxembourg: Use of Alcohol/Drugs at the Workplace

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  • Observatory: EurWORK
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  • Published on: 07 May 2012

Vassil Kirov

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The information about the use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace in Luxembourg is scarce, this topics are still a taboo. There are some surveys that address partially these questions. The legal regulation is not comprehensive, it focuses on the responsibility of the employer for all the health and safety at work issues, including the use of alcohol and drugs. There are few initiatives at workplace or by social partners.


Block 1: Main sources of information dealing with the issue of alcohol/drug use at the workplace at national level and its relation with working conditions, etc.

1.1 Are there national statistical sources (surveys, administrative registers including company reports as surveys / reports from the Labour Inspectorate, Labour doctors, etc) that provide information on the issue of alcohol/drug use at the workplace in your country? If so, identify them and explain their characteristics and methodology. Please refer both to general population health surveys/sources or general alcohol/drug use surveys/sources as to working conditions or workplace specific surveys/sources

Luxembourg there are no national statistical sources available that provide information on the issue of alcohol/drug use at the workplace. Some information could be obtained from publications of the national administration such as the Department “Health at work” within the Direction “Health” of the Ministry of Health – such as the 2011 National report on the state of the drugs phenomenon "Grand Duchy of Luxembourg": new developments, trends and in-depth information on selected issues(however this publication is prepared by a public research centre, CRP Santé , and not by the administration itself). This report however does not address drug use at the workplace. The main finding of this report concern the drug policy development (e.g. the global budget of the Ministry of Health granted to drug-related services and programs went up from 1,270,169 EUR in 1999 to 8,635,867.- EUR in 2010, thus witnessing a progression rate of 580%. Overall public expenditures in the field of drug demand and drug supply reduction per year are currently estimated at 38,500,000.- (Origer, 2010). Expenditures exclusively allocated to drug-related treatment reached 16,300,000.- in 2010), to national drug prevalence and drug use, to the Health correlates and responses to consequences, to the social correlates and social reintegration. According to the 2011 report the unemployment rate is already 69%, a continuing increase. Thus, the proportion of professionally active problematic drug users (PDU) respondents reporting a stable job situation (e.g. long term contract) has sensibly decreased over the 3 last years, which should also be put in the context of the current economic parameters of the crisis.

1.2. Are there any other sources of information (published after mid-2000s) that may provide valuable information on the issue (i.e. ad-hoc studies, sectoral studies, administrative reports, articles, published case studies, etc). If so, identify and describe them.

Even if a publication addresses the issue of alcohol and drug use at the workplace in Luxembourg already in the 1990s, there are few specific publications providing information on the question examined after the mid-2000. The main are the following:

  • In its presentation for the press conference “The well-being at work in Luxembourg in 2010” TNS ILRES includes some data about the addiction problems at work. According to this research (LU1012011D) commissioned by the Luxembourg Chamber of Employees (CSL); the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Luxembourg (OGB-L) and the Luxembourg Mental Health League (Ligue luxembourgeoise d’hygiène mentale) only 32% of the respondents (sample of about 1500 respondents, residents and transborder workers and employees) declare to know about addictions related to alcohol, drugs or medicaments at the workplace. This presence if higher in sectors such as the public sector (48%), the transports (40%) and the industry (37 %). Residents in Luxembourg are more often addicted (37%). These cases concern more often men than women (respectively 34% and 27%)

  • The joint publication of the Government, the Chamber of Private employees and the Chamber of Labour “Health at Work in Luxembourg” (“La santé au travail au Luxembourg”) from 2005 also addresses this question and provides some data. Accordin to this publication in the country there are about 8.000-10.000 heavy drinkers or about 3% of the population over 15 years old. The facts mentioned are that about one fourth of all accidents of work are probably due to alcohol and absences from work are 3 to 4 times more frequent in the case of heavy drinkers.

Block 2: Information on the extent of the use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace in your country, as well as the type of situations (sectors, occupations, working conditions, etc.) in which this use occurs, its consequences (production process, social relations at work) and the rationale behind it

There are some indications in publications such as “Health at work” (2005) that the number of excessive drinkers (those drinking about 150 ml. pure alcohol per day or about 8-9 beers) in Luxembourg is about 8.000 - 10.000 persons, so about 3% of the population of 15+ (see p. 183). The same publication argues that about 25% of all the work accidents are probably due to alcohol and that alcohol is the sixth most often case for dismissals . The absences from work are from 3 to 4 times more often within the excessive drinkers and alcoholics (p. 187).

According to a recent report (see Goerens, R. Drogues illicites: Situation au Luxembourg) the Luxembourg is among the leading countries in Europe by the number of problematic drug users per capita – about 2.500 in total. According to the same presentation there are no official figures about the drug use in the professional life. There is no (or almost no) information from the part of the enterprises. Thus this topic is still taboo and the possible explanation is related to the fear to the corporate image. According to a recent study (Archives des maladies professionnelles et de l’environnement, Auteur: Dr. Serge Krippler) done in 2008 by the Service de santé au travail multisectoriel (STM) among employees aged 18-39 years from the private sector with 79,8 % response rate (or 1.358 respondents) almost one tenth (8,4 %) is using illicit substances.

2.1. Please provide the available data and information on the prevalence of drug/alcohol use at the workplace in your country, if possible differentiating data by:

There is no available information about the alcohol use at the workplace in Luxembourg. There are no comprehensive information about the drug use at the workplace.

2.2. Please provide data and information on the rationale and consequences of drug/alcohol use at work. Focus on construction, transport:

Reasons for consuming alcohol/drugs

There is no available information.

Consequences of consuming alcohol/drugs

The above-mentioned recent TNS ILRES study indicates that one employee from three is confronted to addictions problems in his professional entourage (including alcohol, drugs and/or medicaments. According to this study the phenomenon is particularly pronounced in the public sector (48%), the transport sector (40%) and the industry (37%). It is more probable that men (34%) have problems with addiction than women (27%).

Block 3: Identify legislation and agreements at national level concerning alcohol/drugs use at the workplace, specifically those related to testing practices

3.1. Please identify and describe the main existing legislation and agreements concerning the prohibition/limitation of alcohol/drug use at work:

The clauses of the Regulation (Arrêté grand-ducal) from the 28 August 1924 concerning the health and safety at work forbid to bring strong alcohol (distilled) at the workplace. The 17th of June 1994 Law concerning health and safety of employees at the workplace stipulates that the employer is responsible for all health and safety aspects at the workplace (Labour Code), including the relation with the drugs and alcohol. The use of drugs is illicit in Luxembourg. The Labour Code does not mention specifically the alcohol and drugs.The main legal regulation dealing with the alcohol at the workplace is the Clause 36 (Prescription 36 de l’Association d’assurances contre les accidents, section industrielle). Accordin to this clause the introcution and consumption of alcohol with more than 10% volume is forbidden in the workplaces (offices, workshop, and dependent premises). The employers could mention that consumption is forbidden in the internal regulations of the enterprise and adopt measures to monitor this ban.

Sometimes within the enterprises (large enterprises or SMEs) there is an internal regulation concerning their policy concerning alcohol and drugs.

There is no specific information about the construction and transport sector.

3.2. Specific focus on legislation / agreements regarding testing practices intended to control the use of alcohol/drugs at work. Please consider questions such us:

  • how are the tests regulated (agreements / legislation or are there guidelines)?

According to a EMCDDA Report, there is no specific legislation on workplace drug testing in Luxembourg.

  • what type/forms of tests – testing methods and for what type of substances?

  • who can ask for tests, on who's initiative are tests initiated? for what purpose/reasons?

According to the above mentionned report, if an employer suspects drug consumption, only the work doctor can perform required tests, according to the Grand-Ducal Decree of 19 March 1982 defining the modalities of medical examination and of blood and/or urine sample taking in case of presumption of illicit drug consumption. The code of medical deontology (Ministerial Decree of 7 July 2005, Article 86) stipulates that a work doctor only communicates his conclusions on an administrative level (e.g. capacity to perform a given task), without indicating underlying medical reasons to the administration he works for.

  • is the consent of the person to be tested needed?


  • is pre-employment testing (before work contract signing) allowed? can tests be included as a clause in work contracts?


  • by whom are the tests undertaken? are tests limited to safety sensitive positions or specific sectors (transport, etc.) or are they overall?

All sectors,

  • when, at what moment can tests be undertaken?


  • What are the necessary established pre-conditions for proceeding for a test?


  • what are the conditions/rules/procedure under which tests can be undertaken? what is the role of the labour doctor and labour inspectorate in testing?


  • To whom will the results be communicated and under what reporting form/


  • who has access to the results of the tests?


  • what can be the consequences of positive results on the work contractual relation?


Describe changes, evolution development of regulation / agreements on testing, drawing the attention to the review in light of the improvement of the testing methods

According to a recent report (see R. Goerens), there is no need of systematic testing of the toxicomany in the enterprises. However in some enterprises there are activities where the drug use could put in danger the security of the other employees, of the clients or the general security. Thus, in case of suspicion it will be desirable to test these employees by a labour medicine service in order to evaluate their aptitudes. The Department “Health at work” suggests to reserve the tests of drug use (act that should be done only by medical doctors) only in case of recruitment and in the case of periodical checks. The only objective of such test is to stop and insecure situation.

In the Guide “Alcohol at the workplace” adapted for the « Conseil National Luxembourgeois d'Alcoologie » (CNLA) there are also some advices how to proceed in the case of abusive drinking at work – e.g. personnel talk of the managers with the persons in question, advice to see professional medical service, etc.

Block 4: Identify and describe national prevention programmes to combat the use of alcohol/drugs at the workplace, especially those based on agreements and cooperation of the social partners:

There are few initiatives to combat the use of alcohol/drugs at the workplace in Luxembourg. One of them is the above-mentioned Guide “Alcool at the work place”. This guide was developed by specialists of the Trier University and adapted by the NGO “National Luxembourgish Council Council d’Alcohology” (CNLA - Conseil national luxembourgeois d'alcoologie asbl).The Department Health at work has taken part in the elaboration and dissemination of the Guide and has encouraged the different services “health at work” (santé au travail7 to make sensitization campaigns.

There are also some initiatives of employers. For example there was a campaign of the City of Luxembourg. In cooperation with the human resources department of the City of Luxembourg, the Centre for Prevention of Toxicomany (Centre de prevention de toxicomanie - CePT) runs a pilot project to prevent addiction behaviour and its correlates in City employees based on a preliminary situation and needs assessment.

The interviewed social partners do not report initiatives done my them in this domain but representatives of the trade unions point out that this topic will come on the agenda as it is the case in other European countries.

There are some NGOs active in the domain of prevention – for example AMA. This NGO offers some general advice and information and offers individualised help in the case of alcohol abuse at the workplace.

Commentary by the NC

The situation concerning drugs and alcohol use at the workplace in Luxembourg still is taboo. In the context of insufficient data it is difficult to evaluate the importance of the phenomena. There are isolated initiatives and practices of prevention at workplace level.

Vassil Kirov, IRshare

[4] Presentation for the press conference “The well-being at work in Luxembourg in 2010” p. 34 - 35


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