UK workers and the wagon

A pat on the back for making it this far so soon after your weekend – you’re clearly more reliable than some. According to a new report, around 40% of employers feel that alcohol misuse is a major cause of absenteeism and poor productivity in the workplace.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

The Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD) is therefore urging companies to do more to help, including taking the provision of counselling more seriously. Not a bad idea when government figures put the cost of days lost to drink at about £2bn a year.

Almost a third of organisations surveyed said they had dismissed employees in the last two years due to alcohol problems. Sixty percent ban alcohol from work premises, while 24% do not allow it while entertaining clients during office hours. However, only half gave access to counselling, with just 38% offering coordinated rehabilitation.

It’s certainly a tricky issue, much of which is down to the culture of our fair isle, in which the perils of alcohol are often overlooked amid much chinking of glasses and shouts of ‘go on, get it down you’. Many firms may therefore feel counselling their employees on drinking issues to be beyond their jurisdiction.

Still, least we’re not Japan, where workers are obliged to join company drinking sessions whenever they occur. This writer once heard a loud thud as he was waiting at a Tokyo zebra-crossing, and turned round to see a Japanese salaryman flat on his back, clad in his business suit and still clutching his briefcase – as his colleague stood over him yelling and booting him in the ribs. All at 7.30 in the evening. A separate sighting involved a businessman emerging from a gutter at 8.30 in the morning. Being Japanese, these men probably experienced nary a dent in their Herculean productivity. The state of their livers, meanwhile – well, that’s another story.

The UK booze business should beware. After chipping away at the smoking issue, it’s looking like it may be next on the list for nation’s health police.

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