Alcohol misuse is everyone’s concern. The costs associated with alcohol at work, the impact of current legislation, and the notable links between alcohol and ill health suggest that alcohol policies are becoming an essential part of good business practice. Small and large businesses alike are advised by major bodies such as the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the Federation of Small Businesses to adopt alcohol policies.
It is estimated that alcohol misuse costs industry several billion pounds each year. Surveys suggest that their main concerns regarding the after-effects of employee drinking are:
All employers have a general duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees. There are elements of the following legislation that affects alcohol misuse:
While for many people, drinking alcohol is a positive part of life and does not cause any problems, the misuse of alcohol can lead to reduced productivity, taking time off work, and accidents at work. That’s why employers should seriously consider adopting an alcohol policy, in consultation with their staff , that is applicable to all employees regardless of status. In cases where restrictions are placed on employees in ‘safety-sensitive’ occupations, policy rules should be clearly explained and defined.
A guide to areas to include in a policy are: