EWCO CAR on Use of Alcohol/Drugs at the Workplace

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  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 07 May 2012

Mirko Mrcela

Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

The data on the use of alcohol at the workplace in Slovenia are scarce. There are sources that provide information on the issue of alcohol use among the active population. One of the surveys carried out on this topic showed that less than one half of companies have implemented a procedure regarding the identification and processing of intoxicated employees. There are no specific regulations regarding drug testing at work in Slovenia. On the other hand, there is legislation specifically intended to prohibit alcohol/drug use at the workplace. The prevention programmes in place focus on the promotion of healthy lifestyles and the dissemination of knowledge about the harmful influence of alcohol.


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

  • Name of the statistical source

  • Scope

  • Goals

  • Methodology

  • Periodicity

The Act Restricting the Use of Alcohol assigns direct control to the Labour inspectorate so their annual reports contain a section related to smoking, alcohol and other drugs at the workplace. In 2005, the Labour Inspectorate of the Republic of Slovenia carried out a survey on the use of alcohol at the workplace. The sample included 118 companies and the number of respondents was 16,008.

Other sources do not focus on the alcohol/drug use at the workplace but on the active population in general. In autumn 2007, the European Health Interview Survey was conducted in Slovenia. It was carried out for the first time and is to be repeated in five-year intervals. The observation unit of the survey included Slovenian residents aged 15 and above and living in private households (not institutionalized). The sample comprised 3,400 persons.

The institute of Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia carried out a survey on risk factors for non-communicable diseases among adults in Slovenia for the year 2008. The sample was random and included respondents aged 25 to 74. The observed risk factors included alcohol.

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.

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

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:

  • Type of substance

  • Sectors => specific focus on the construction and transport sectors

  • Occupational profiles

  • Other relevant variables

According to the Labour Inspectorate’s annual report for 2009, there is a noticeable decline in the presence of alcohol in the workplace. Labour inspectors have received three reports relating to violations of the Act restricting the Consumption of Alcohol such as the sale or provision of alcoholic drinks during work time in the workplace. In 2004, the labour inspectors assess that employers control the provision and drinking of alcohol in the workplace. If an employee comes to the workplace intoxicated by alcohol or when an employer discovers that an employee is drinking in the workplace, the employer does not permit the employee to continue work, as employers are aware of their responsibilities if intoxicated employees present a risk to themselves or others and cause an accident at work that could result in an injury.

The 2005 survey carried out by the Labour Inspectorate showed that 61.02% of respondents never noticed that workers arrive at the workplace under the influence of alcohol, 38.14% noticed occasionally that workers arrive at the workplace under the influence of alcohol, and 0.85% noticed it frequently. 38.98% of respondents noticed occasionally the comsumption of alcohol at the workplace, while 61.02% never noticed it. The number of workers who have been processed due to alcohol intoxication in 2005 is 3 per 1000 workers. 46.61% companies from the sample have implemented steps on how to act in cases of suspicion of alcohol intoxication of employees.

According to the European Health Interview Survey from 2007, in the 12 months prior to the date of the survey, cannabis was in general consumed by 2.6% of individuals, and other drugs by 0.9% of individuals who were aged 15 years and over. Among the employed persons, 2.4% consumed cannabis, while among the unemployed people, 7.5% were users of cannabis. 6.4% of individuals employed for a fixed period consumed cannabis, while 1.5% of those on an open-ended contract consumed cannabis.

The 2008 survey, done by the Institute of Public Health, showed that of 7250 respondents 79.3% consumed a glass of an alcoholic drink in the previous 12 months. The division by the type of work shows that this share was 76.4% for those performing hard work in agriculture; 81.4% for those performing hard work in industry; 81.3% for those performing lighter and combined work; 87.6% for those performing office/intellectual work; 60.6% for housewives; 73.6% for the pensioners. The findings of this survey show that the share of excessive drinkers is higher for men but is decreasing for both, men and women (from 13.4% in 2001 to 9.5% in 2008 in total). With regard to the type of work, the share of excessive drinkers is the highest for workers performing hard work in agriculture. It is decreasing for all groups save the workers performing hard work in industry and the unemployed.

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

  • Use of drugs related to certain working conditions (e.g. alcohol when working in cold / warm environments; stimulants when working at high rhythm, etc…)

  • Accessibility/availability

Consequences of consuming alcohol/drugs

working conditions affected by drug use (risk increase, accidents, absenteeism, sick leave…):

  • Accidents and fatalities due to alcohol/drug use

  • Sick leaves attributed to alcohol/drugs, absenteeism

  • Assessment of costs

Use of alcohol/drugs negatively affecting other working conditions:

  • Uneven workload distribution…

  • Work organisation

  • working environment (deteriorated social relations at work, higher number of conflicts…)

The Labour Inspectorate’s report for 2004 identifies Slovenia as one of the European countries most affected by the consequences of alcohol on the population. This issue seems to be a burden on the entire society and is, according to the report, expressed in the form of health complications, lack of productivity (alcoholics are often absent from work for health reasons, and are less effective in the workplace), in addition to social and other problems.

The 2008 Institute of Public Health survey identifies alcohol as one of the most common risk factors (along with smoking, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity) contributing the most to the mortality of population.

The STEPS (Strengthening Engagement in Public Health Research) project report from Slovenia asserts that harmful alcohol consumption is a great public health problem that has a great influence on the quality of lives of individuals, their families and society as a whole. In 2003, the Slovenian yearly costs of temporary work absenteeism and premature deaths because of the 100% alcohol attributable causes were estimated to be around 37 million euros (Šešok and Sedlak, 2005). Between 1985 and 2007, the standardized mortality rate for selected alcohol related causes to alcohol was in Slovenia between 93.77 and 169.19, surpassing the average of 27 European states with similar mortality and birth rates.

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:

  • Is there any legislation or agreement specifically intended to prohibit or limit alcohol/drug use at work? Please describe:

  • Type of legislation / agreement (Government or parliament laws, agreements from social dialogue, from the Governments and social partners, from other organisations, etc.)

  • Contents, stipulations

  • Collectives affected

  • Is there any sectoral legislation or agreement with the same purpose? Please focus on the construction and transport sectors

The main tool of the alcohol politics at the national level is Act Restricting the Use of Alcohol (Zakon o omejevanju porabe alkohola, ZOPA), adopted on January 28th 2003. Article 12 of this act stipulates that it is prohibited to sell or supply alcoholic beverages during working hours at the workplace. According to Article 16 a fine ranging from 2086 to 33,383 euros shall be imposed on an employer who sells or offers alcoholic drinks in disregard of Article 12 of this act.

Occupational Health and Safety Act (Zakon o varnosti in zdravju pri delu, ZVZD), adopted in June 2011, refers to the prohibition of work under the influence of alcohol and drugs at a workplace. Article 19 of this act stipulates that an employer must ensure health and safety at work. Article 51 of this act stipulates that an employee is not allowed to work or be in a workplace under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other illegal substances. An employer identifies the influence of alcohol, drugs or other illegal substances following the procedure laid down by an internal act of the employer. The employer must remove from work, the workplace and work process and employee who has worked or has been at work in contravention of the provisions of this article.

Employment Relationships Act (Zakon o delovnih razmerjih, ZDR) relates more indirectly to alcohol/drug use at the workplace. Article 31 of this act stipulates that the worker must carry out work with due diligence at the position for which he has concluded the employment contract and during the working time and at the location set down for carrying out work in accordance with the organization of work and business operations of the employer. Article 33 of this act complies with regulations on health and safety at work, according to which the worker must respect and implement the regulations on safety and health at work carefully in order to protect his life and health as well as life and health of others.

Restriction of the Use of Tobacco Act (Zakon o omejevanju uporabe tobačnih izdelkov, ZOUTI), which was adopted in October 2007, stipulates that smoking in an enclosed public space and work premises shall be prohibited.

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)?

  • 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?

  • 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?

  • 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?

In Slovenia, there is no specific legislation on workplace drug testing. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer is obliged to provide a safe place or work. The employer has the right and duty to require from a successful applicant to pass a preventive medical examination. If the employer suspects that the employee suffers from an addiction that may influence the employee’s work ability, they may send them to a targeted preventive medical check-up. Drug testing at the workplace is also possible on the basis of mutual agreement between employer and employee.

Drug testing is implemented on the basis of assessment of employee’s capability to work (if he/she is fit to work). The occupational physicians are authorized to make such examinations. Some employers include drug testing in preventive and, in the case of suspicion, also periodic medical examinations. There are special regulations on drug testing for risk professions (e.g., transport, army, police).

Rules on Preventive Medical Check-up of Employees (Pravilnik o preventivnih zdravstvenih pregledih delavcev) from 2002 stipulate in Article 10 that the employer is authorised to send the employee to a medical check-up if the employee’s working capacity is reduced and if the employer believes there is an addiction problem which might have an impact on the work performance of the employee. The employer needs to have proofs based on which they can suspect addiction. The proofs are also needed in case of disciplinary measures against the employee. The judicial practice has shown that what counts as proof is the alcohol test performed by a qualified and authorised person, test of the body liquids, testimony of witnesses and the employee’s testimony. Testing can be undertaken only with the consent of the employee.

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

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:

  • Organisation(s) responsible for these programmes

  • Drivers and motivations. Objectives

  • Target groups (sectors, specific occupations…)

  • Content and activities developed (campaigns for alcohol/drug free workplaces, information to workers, training, professional counselling and personal assistance, reintegration programmes…)

  • Tools (seminars, brochures, toolkits, guidelines, polls, tests…)

  • Inter-relation with other (health) programmes. Participation of health professionals

  • Are the prevention programmes integrated in the general working conditions/OSH training programmes and management systems?

  • Are the prevention programmes based on joint assessment of the social partners and defined in an agreed policy for the enterprises? Role of work councils and H/S committees.

  • Performance and outcomes of the programmes

  • Changes overtime

  • Assessment of the programmes. Point of view of the social partners.

Resolution on the 2004 – 2009 National Programme on Drugs Control identifies a number of tasks related to prevention of drug use in the workplace, such as to develop prevention programmes to prevent the use of drugs in the workplace and to establish a shared responsibility of employers and trade unions to develop and use these programs.

The clinical Institute of Occupational, Traffic and Sports Medicine, operating within the framework of the Ljubljana University Medical Centre, implements a programme of promoting health at work, named ‘Fit for Work’. The aim of the programme is to improve workers’ health by influencing changes in working conditions, working environment and everyday choices that improve health. One of the most important contents of this programme is prevention of the use of psychoactive substances in the workplace. In the 2006-2008 period, 67 counsellors from 53 companies involved in implementing the promoting health at work programme were trained and the qualified counsellors for the promotion of health at work pass on their knowledge and skills to their co-workers in companies. The module dedicated to the prevention of the use of psychoactive substances in the workplace focuses on obtaining knowledge on psychoactive substances and on their effect on workers and their work. The module also pays great attention to obtaining knowledge and skills for the formulation and implementation of a company’s policy on psychoactive substances (prevention programme, detection programme and a programme of measures and continuous evaluation).

In response to the general spread of drug use and addiction, local municipalities began forming the so-called local action groups at the beginning of the 1990s. By the end of 2004, around 50 local action groups were registered in Slovenia. The main tasks of these groups are: networking between different local actors, research development and implementation or analysis of the drug situation, development and implementation of prevention programmmes, harm reduction programmes of drug use and abuse, and programmes for social rehabilitation and reintegration.

In 2003 the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Ljubljana started the project ‘Message in the bottle’, which was aimed at reducing the alcohol consumption and harmful consequences of the use of alcohol among the inhabitants of Slovenia. The goal of the project is to inform, to educate and to raise awareness of people with regard to alcohol and its effects as well as with regard to the harm it causes, the characteristics of abstinence from alcohol, less risky drinking habits and alcohol addiction. The project also aims to promote a lifestyle without alcohol as well as a changed attitude towards alcohol consumption and its consequences. One of the most important parts of the project is the web page www.nalijem.si where the public can find detailed information about everything related to alcohol consumption. The web page also offers an anonymous questionnaire, which enables the interested public to assess their alcohol consumption and receive detailed feedback about their drinking habits.

Commentary by the NC

NCs are requested to provide a very brief commentary on main obtained results

Use of alcohol/drugs at the workplace is not given nearly as much attention as the problem of reducing the alcohol caused harm among the general population is. The reports by the Labour Inspectorate quote very few cases of breaches of legislation regarding the use of alcohol in the workplace and on the other hand the consumption of alcohol in Slovenia seems to be seriously high. The fact that in 2006 the Labour Inspectorate dedicated an entire conference to the use of alcohol and other drugs at the workplace is an indication of the size of this problem.

Mirko Mrcela, OHRC


  • National Institute of Public Health: Report on the Drug Situation 2009 of the Republic of Slovenia

  • Hlastan Ribič, Cirila (01.2009/08.2010). Dejavniki tveganja za nenalezljive bolezni pri odraslih prebivalcih Slovenije za leto 2008. URN:NBN:SI:DOC-V16X3IG1 from http://www.dlib.si

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