The workplace isn’t the place you’d first think of when wanting an alcoholic beverage or two, but some companies are lenient on the matter, allowing lunch break tipples or champagne when entertaining clients etc. Here we’ll outline the pros, cons and things to consider for employers when implementing an alcohol policy.

Pros

Drinking alcohol is a very social pastime – especially when the sun is shining. If employees are cooped up in an office for the entire morning, sitting out in a beer garden taking in the warm air sounds like bliss for many.

A beer or glass of wine to accompany lunch may allow employees to relax and de-stress, and socialise with colleagues. Socialisation at work may boost relationships and overall make the workforce a friendlier and happier one.  More informal conversation with a beer in hand may also promote collaboration and work project ideas being sparked in the relaxed atmosphere.

Some employers like to join employees and encourage relaxation with a drink at work, believing that workforce morale is a key factor in a successful business.  A office development in Soho, London even reported to be installing ‘Press for Champagne’ buttons at desks, but according to the developers, the buttons are for use out-of-working hours; an end of the day treat, if you will.

When employees could drink

Like just mentioned, lunch breaks or, more commonly, after work are times where employees may enjoy a drink or two. Out-of-hours drinking is more common as the worries of decreased productivity are gone as work is done for the day, and makes most sense to some.

Other times employees may drink is to, again, be social but while working. These instances could include at functions or events, or when entertaining clients. Drinking in these situations, in moderation, is normally allowed by employers in many fields of business.

Of course, if too much alcohol is consumed or an individual has a problem with alcoholism, actions should be taken to offer help and to prevent unprofessionalism being portrayed.

A guide by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) notes that as an employer, “you have a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of your employees. Similarly, your employees are also required to take reasonable care of themselves and others who could be affected by what they do. In the transport industry, there is additional legislation in place to control the misuse of alcohol and drugs.”

Effects on performance

As it’s known, consuming alcohol in any situation affects judgement and physical co-ordination, and so drinking within work hours could arguably affect work performance. With alcohol in the bloodstream, focus and concentration may be reduced, therefore potentially decreasing productivity.

Setting restrictions or a zero tolerance policy is something to consider if you notice employee’s quality and quantity of work is noticeably worse after a lunch time drink.

Absences

As a final point, employees drinking too regularly or too much can also affect the workforce as a whole. The same report from the HSE states that an estimated 3-5% of work absences are related to alcohol; whether that’s too many drinks the night before leaving employees with a nasty hangover, or a more serious problem.

While employers can only really outline do’s and don’ts within work hours, if alcohol use at any time of the day affects negatively on productivity at work, employers are entitled to, and expected to, investigate and look into the use of alcohol amongst employees. This is not only to benefit the employees themselves, but the company and success of it as a whole.


Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our Content Writer.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with a love of writing about anything and everything in tow.
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