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Annie Hayes

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Drunkenness at work on the increase

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New research reveals that although the number of ‘liquid lunches’ has remained relatively static over the past two years, more alcohol is being drunk.

The research, from employment law firm Peninsula, polled 1,527 employees and 712 employers from across the UK in an identical survey to one it carried out in 2004.

During the past two years, the number of people having more than two alcoholic drinks at lunchtime has increased from 59 per cent to 61 per cent – and the number who say they have felt tipsy at work, however slightly, has increased from 76 per cent to 78 per cent.

However, 8 per cent of people say they never drink alcohol at lunchtimes – up 1 per cent from 2004. And although there has been a slight increase in the number of people drinking two or three times a week, there has been a reduction in the number who drink during four lunchtimes per week.

Meanwhile, although 88 per cent of employers say they would be concerned if their employees felt drunk at work, only 21 per cent have a policy in place to deal with drunkenness in the workplace.

Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula, said: “Alcohol will obviously be a problem for employers if, as the survey suggests, employees are returning to work in an inebriated state.

“However the extent to which productivity is harmed varies depending on the area of business in question. For example, if workers whose day-to-day business relies heavily upon face-to-face interaction with customers and clients are under the influence of alcohol, not only is efficiency reduced but also these workers are portraying a slack and negative image of the company to those they come into contact with.

“Although it may seem harmless, there is a more serious undertone. One needs to take into account the health and safety aspects. This may not seem so obvious in an office environment, but is especially important where factory or production work is involved.

“Worryingly few employers have policies in place to deal with the potential problems of alcohol and being intoxicated whilst at work.

“Employers must state clear rules and regulations related to drinking alcohol during the working day to all employees through their contracts of employment, which in turn workers should strictly adhere to. If they are broken then bosses should talk to the individual or individuals concerned to ascertain the extent of the problem and how best to solve it. But if it becomes a persistent issue then appropriate action should be taken.”

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Annie Hayes

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