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Hints and Tips - Advice on Workplace Alcohol Policies

This week (18 – 24 November) is National Alcohol Awareness Week which aims to get people thinking about alcohol - how it affects us as individuals, families, communities and society.

The workplace does not go unaffected and official statistics on alcohol consumption show that those in employment (especially in “office” professions) are more likely to drink during the week and also to a greater extent than those who are unemployed or economically inactive.

Research also shows that in recent years, an increasing proportion of working people have been drinking above recommended guidelines.

This invariably has had harmful implications on the health and social behaviour of employees and employers in the workplace and recent information included in an impact assessment paper on minimum pricing calculated lost productivity due to alcohol in the UK at about £7.3bn per year.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as an employer you have a general duty to ensure the health and safety of your employees, and if you knowingly allow an employee under the influence of alcohol and drugs to continue working putting other employees at risk you could be liable.

So what can you do as an employer to tackle potential issues related to alcohol?

• Have a robust alcohol policy in place, setting clear rules on alcohol use in the workplace and a clear statement of what disciplinary action will be taken if this is breached
• Include in contracts the provision for alcohol testing where alcohol or drug misuse could be a potential danger to the health and safety of drinkers and their colleagues

For further information and advice on this and other employment issues is available via our helpline on 0845 130 1722. 

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