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Annie Hayes

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Workers fear productivity hangover

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Employees are showing a measured response to the news of impending 24-hour pub licensing laws; the survey by recruitment website Reed.co.uk shows that over half of the 8,440 respondents feel that extended opening hours will cut UK productivity.

Alcohol abuse costs UK businesses 29 million lost working days a year equating to a total bill of £2.8 billion and says the survey this is set to worsen when pubs go 24-hours.

Retail and distribution workers fear the worst impact of all sectors, with 56% predicting decreased productivity.

Younger workers greeted the news more soberly then predicted with 55% of the 18-25 age group demonstrating productivity concerns. While less than half of directors seemed worried.

Reed’s Martin Warnes commented:

“This research appears to question Government hopes that 24-hour licences in pubs will lead to a more relaxed, continental-style attitude towards drinking outside working hours. Young people, the age group most likely to take advantage of any relaxation, are the most concerned that it would affect productivity.”

Perceptions of alcohol and acceptability have also changed according to the survey results. Almost a third of respondents feel it is now more acceptable to turn up to work with a hangover than it was three years ago.

Women showed the most movement in attitude with 35% saying that it was fine to have a hangover at work while men were comparatively more prudish with only 26% saying it was ok to do the same.

Respondents cited the following occurrences which happened as a direct result of alcohol:

• Not caring: one employee found it all too much when “A customer was having a go at me and I got up and told them that I had a headache and didn’t have to deal with this before walking away.”
• Crushing things: One employee admitted to “crushing a Ford Escort by reversing over it in a JCB.”
• Passing out: one found a hangover too much and “passed out whilst on supermarket checkout,” another “collapsed at work and had to be taken home by a colleague.”
• Throwing up: one respondent remembered “being sick all over my boss. I was sacked.” Another was equally unlucky when they “threw up on a customer.”
• Slurring words: a respondent found the next morning “that my speech was slurred to the point where I couldn’t use the phone.”
• Blowing up: one employee lost it completely, saying “I spilt hot tea on my executive manager’s suit and punched my secretary, as well as smashing the vending machine.” Another said they simply “started a fist fight with my boss.”

Commenting on the Reed research, Geethika Jayatilaka of Alcohol Concern said:

“The findings highlight a serious concern among employers that new licensing reforms may exacerbate current problems in the workplace as a result of over indulgence by staff after work. There is certainly a danger that with the introduction of 24-hour drinking, people could be drinking more than they previously did and over a longer period.

“We already know that binge drinkers are at a higher risk of unemployment, and this research serves to reinforce the fact that staff that go out drinking excessively are more likely to under-perform or call in sick the next day. Drinking too much the night before is also accountable for many avoidable accidents at work caused by employees still under the influence of alcohol.”

The 2003 Licensing Act is due to be introduced next year.


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Annie Hayes

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