Hungary: EWCO CAR on Use of Alcohol/Drugs at the Workplace

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

Dávid Simon and Ákos Csók

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.

While alcohol addiction is a very important problem in Hungary and drug addiction also in the highlight almost no data available about the alcohol and drug related problems at workplaces. Only one data show the seriousness of the problem: 15-30% of the accidents at workplaces related to alcohol consumption or drug usage. The available literature is very poor about reasons of alcohol or drug usage at workplace as well – there are only some case studies based on researches in a specific company. As a consequence there is only one national program with very few participants trying to cope with this problem (so called ‘Remain in the Green Zone’). Papers written by the leaders of the program show that the attention of employers’ and employees’ organizations as well as companies remained low since the program started.


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

There are no official statistics about alcohol or drug use at workplace.

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.

There is no other information.

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

In spite of alcohol consumption is quite high in Hungary (acording to the data of WHO, the alcohol consumption in Hungary is the third highest in the world after Czech Republic and Moldova) there are no general data available about frequency, reasons for or outcome of alcohol or drug consumption in workplace in Hungary. The only available data is about the rate of alcohol or drug related accidents among all accident at workplaces. The Handbook for Organizing Programs – Mobilization of Enterprises and Employees in Order to Prevent Harmful Consumption of Alcohol and Drug (National Employment Service, ÁFSZ) says that 15-30% of all accident at workplaces can be related to alcohol or drug usage, but the source of this data is not available. In contrary with this the more recent never adopted draft of Alcohol Policy and Strategy 2009 (Ministry of Health) states that there are no reliable data about the relation between alcohol or drug consumption and accident at workplaces. In the cases of transport and construction sector there are no data available (only for drunk driving for general population).

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/availabilityConsequences 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…)

As a case study a research was carried out in 2007-2008 at Flextronics by the Occupational Health Service in the frame of ‘Remain in the Green Zone’ program (see later). The main focuses of the research were psycho-social problems, stress at work, possible alcohol, drug, medicine usage due to the stress. The target population of the research was the employees of the enterprise including executives, middle mangers as well. The results showed that high percentage (not specified) of the dismissals related to mental problems, alcohol consumption or other addictions. 55% of the respondents answered that the requirements and stress level were very high that might be a reason of alcohol and drug problems. The coping strategies of line workers were insufficient due to the answers for the standardized coping strategy questioner. The social support among employees was in a very low level. Factors such as hardness in childhood, low level of education, personality type had been significant in explanation of low level of coping (Papp, 2009).

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 60th paragraph of the law on the Occupational Safety and Health (1993rd XCIII. law) states in general that 'the employee can only work in a condition that proper for work.'. Parallel with this due to the paragraph 103 of the Labour Code the employee must appear in the specified place and time in a condition of capable of working, must spend his/her work time at work or must be available for the employer for work. The sanction of wilful violation of the above mentioned conditions can be extraordinary termination due to the Labour Code. The influence of drug or alcohol can be seen as such wilful violation of Labour Code due the practice of the Labour Court (based on the Resolution about Workplace Drug Tests of the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information). In cases of some occupations such as teachers, healthcare professionals, members of the military and law enforcement bodies and drivers special legislation forbid work after administration or consumption of drug or alcohol (zero tolerance - the list of these occupations is not available, they are legislated in different laws and acts). Furthermore collective agreement also can forbid work under influence of drug or alcohol. Due to the answers of the representatives of the employees’ and employers’ organization – similarly to other sectors – there is no specific agreement neither in construction nor in transport sector about this question. Sectoral collective agreement in the construction sector points at the above mentioned sections of the Labour Code.

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?

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

The legislation of testing use of alcohol or drug is controversial. The Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information issued a resolution on drug test in workplaces in 2005 which states that the usage of drug test in general not allowed for employers because (1) voluntary consents of employees are not provided due to the inequality of power, (2) it may leads to a practice that violate privacy, (3) efficacy of generally available mobile tests is not convincing (these tests are not able to prove the current influence of drugs only the administration of it some times before testing). On the basis of the resolution the drug test is allowed only when law enforces it (e.g. in the case of army), but in these cases clear and discrimination free regulation should be issued that is available for employees as well and the target population of drug tests should be narrowed to those employees who perform risk related activities. The resolution also stress that tests should be evaluated by health professionals and the copy of the result of the test should be given to the employee as well for independent revision if it is required.

The case of alcohol test is quite different. In general, on the basis of resolution of the Supreme Court the employee who refuses participation in alcohol test can be penalized as if the employee would have been under influence of alcohol. On the other hand in cases of misuse of alcohol test (regularly, without reason or as a revenge) employee can refuse participation in the test. In the cases of the above mentioned occupation where no alcohol consumption allowed due to legislation or collective agreement, the regular test can not be refused. The tests usually carried out by breathalyzer. If the first test is positive but the employee doesn’t accept the result, blood test should be applied. In this case refuse of the blood test the influence of alcohol proved. If the blood test can not be completed due to the fault of the employer, the influence of alcohol is not proved.

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.

There is only one national prevention program in Hungary called ‘Mobilization of Enterprises and Employees in Order to Prevent Harmful Usage of Alcohol and Drug’(”A vállalatok és dolgozóik mozgósítása a káros alkohol- és a drogfogyasztás megelõzésére” and coordinated by the National Employment Service (AFSZ) (working name of the program is ‘Remain in the Green Zone’ (“Maradj a Zöld Zónában!”)). The program was started on the basis of 10th point of the Government Decision 1129/2004 and the initiative of ILO. The program mainly based on the translated and adopted publications of ILO and UNDCP. The program is related to the National Drug Prevention Strategy as that stresses the importance of the workplace as a possible place for preventing drug usage. The program also connected to governmental CSR related initiatives such as ‘Family-Friendly Workplaces’ (“Családbarát Munkahely”) or ‘Health-Friendly Workplaces’ (“Egészségbarát Munkahely”). The focus of the program is the prevention. The main goals of the program are informing the joining companies, giving a full methodology to build up their own prevention program, giving help in organizing programs, organizing conferences where best practices and results of the program can be shared. The program practically started in 2006 by publication of the adopted materials in the homepage of the AFSZ. The program has a sub page on the homepage of the AFSZ ( containing methodological book, booklets and related articles and presentations. Since the program started there were two conferences (in 2008 and 2009) that summarized in the above mentioned homepage. Based on the online materials the Joint Venture Association (association of foreign companies in Hungary) and AmCham (American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary) participating in the program as employers’ organizations. Employees’ organizations in general are mentioned as partners but no specific organization can be found in the materials (and it is mentioned that these organizations showed little interest in the program). In the summarizing papers (Methodological Booklets I and II) the following specific participating companies and organizations were mentioned: Határőrség (border protecting authority), Paksi Atomerőmű (Paks Nuclear Power Plant), Flextronics, ALCOA – Köfém, Dunaferr Rt., Gardénia Csipkefüggöny-gyár, Légiforgalmi és Repülõtéri Igazgatóság (LRI), MATÁV Corp. (now T-Com), MOL Corp. Unfortunately the available materials doesn’t evaluate the program.

There are a number of companies where a management order – or two side agreement exist between employees representative and employer about zero tolerance at work places and in the security check at the entrance includes alcohol checks (data not available, based on the answers of the representatives of employers’ and employees’ organization in construction and transport sector).

Commentary by the NC

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

The available information about the issue is quite poor even in the case of the only working program (last event or paper published on the webpage of the program is more than one year old). On the other hand the possible seriousness of the problem can be seen if take into account the fact that Hungary is in the sixth place in alcohol consumption in the EU (DG Health and Consumers, 2005). As it is seen in the papers quoted in this questioner neither employers’ and employees’ organizations nor companies interested in solving this problem. Furthermore most of the companies consider alcohol or drug usage simply disciplinary issue that can be managed by dismissal.


  • Alkohol-politika és –stratégia 2009 (tervezet) [Alcohol policy any strategy 2009 (draft)]. Ministry of Health, 2009 Internet: (Last access: 05/09/2011)

  • Állásfoglalás a munkahelyi drogtesztekről [Resolution about Workplace Drug Tests]. Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, 2005 Internet: (Last access: 05/09/2011)

  • Kaucsek, György - Simon, Péter ed. (2008) : Módszertani füzetek I. - „Maradj a Zöld Zónában” munkahelyi drog- és alkohol-megelőzési program [Methodological Booklets I – ‘Remain in the Green Zone’ Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program at Workplaces]. Szociálpolitikai és Munkaügyi Intézet, Budapest, 2010. Internet: (Last access: 05/09/2011)

  • Kaucsek, György - Simon, Péter ed. (2010) : Módszertani füzetek II. - „Maradj a Zöld Zónában” munkahelyi drog- és alkohol-megelőzési program [Methodological Booklets I – ‘Remain in the Green Zone’ Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program at Workplaces]. Szociálpolitikai és Munkaügyi Intézet, Budapest, 2010. Internet: (Last access: 05/09/2011)

  • Kézikönyv a programok szervezéséhez - A vállalatok és dolgozóik mozgósítása a káros alcohol- és kábítószerfogyasztás megelőzésére [Handbook for Organizing Programs – Mobilization of Enterprises and Employees in Order to Prevent Harmful Usage of Alcohol and Drug]. Ministry of Labour and Employment, Employment Agency, 2005 (based on the publication of the ILO and UNDCP) Internet: (Last access: 05/09/2011)

  • Papp, Éva (2009): Egészség, mint vállalati kultúra [Health as Corporate Culture]. „ Függőség és/vagy Munkaképesség” konferencia [‘Dependency and/or Ability to Work’ conference], Zalaegerszeg, Internet: (Last access: 05/09/2011)

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