first_imgThereare less than six months until new laws legalising 24-hour drinking come intoeffect. But both employers and staff fear that increased drinking will causeproblems at work and lead to a decrease in productivity.TheGovernment hopes the implementation of the 2003 Licensing Act will bringEuropean- style ‘cafe culture’ to UKcities, reducing the potential for post-closing time misbehaviour.However,a survey of almost 8,500 UKstaff unveiled this week shows the majority of respondents believe thatround-the-clock licences will have a detrimental effect on productivity at workTheresearch, compiled by recruitment website Reed.co.uk, estimates that the totalcost of alcohol abuse to UKbusiness – combining the cost of drink-induced sick days with lost productivitycaused by hangovers at work – is already almost £2.8bn per annum.Morethan half the respondents (51 per cent), drawn from more than 10 industrysectors, believe that 24-hour licences will cause a further drain on UKorganisations’ productivity and finances. Only 6 per cent believe it will leadto increased productivity at work, while just over a third (37 per cent) believe there will be no change.Youngerpeople – who are considered the most likely to binge drink – are particularlyconcerned. The research shows 55 per cent of 18 to 25-year-old respondentsbelieve the relaxed laws will hit productivity.Thesurvey also highlights the change in attitudes to alcohol, with almost a third(31 per cent) of respondents suggesting it is now more acceptable to turn up towork with a hangover than it was three years ago.Geethika Jayatilaka, director of policy and public affairs atAlcohol Concern, said the findings raise fears that new licencing laws could exacerbate current problems inthe workplace.”Wealready know that binge drinkers are at a higher risk of unemployment, and thisresearch serves to reinforce the fact that staff who go out drinking excessively are more likely tounder-perform or call in sick the next day,” she said.”Drinkingtoo much the night before is also accountable for many avoidable accidents atwork caused by employees still under the influence of alcohol.”MartinWarnes, manager ofReed.co.uk, said the Government should consider scrapping the option of beingopen all hours from the Licensing Act.”Itis interesting to recall that the licencinglaws were first introduced because munitions workers in the First World Warcouldn’t perform tasks properly,” he said. “Perhaps the Governmentshould bear this in mind before trying to introduce a European drinking culturethrough legal changes.”Lastyear, the TUC called on employers to work harder with unions to draw up alcoholpolicies that covered the causes of excessive drinking, confidentiality,counselling, screening, testing and the role of occupational health services.However,employers should tread carefully when considering alcohol-related issues atwork, said Mark Taylor, employment partner at law firm Lovells.”Ifthe employer has a reasonable belief that an employee’s performance is beingaffected by alcohol and has proof – such as slurring – it could be treated asmisconduct,” he said. “But the difficulty is consistency, becausepeople could point to situations, such as sales staff being encouraged to drinkat lunchtime with clients.”Despitethe potential difficulties, most employers should not face too many problemsdue to the new laws, according to Taylor, who believes the findings of the Reedsurvey are over-pessimistic.”Theremay be an element of novelty at the start, but after a few months it shouldsettle down,” he said. “The majority of workers are responsibleenough not to let alcohol affect their performance.”By Daniel Thomas Hangovers: the cost to UK employers –UKemployees on average turn up to work with a hangover two-and-a half days ayear, which, given a working population of 28,301,000, translates to more than72 million days –Hangovers cause a 27 per cent loss in productivity among those who make it intowork after a night of alcoholic excess–In real terms, this equates to a loss of 19 million working days annually, witha cost to UKemployers of £1.8bn in lost working hours–This is in addition to the 10 million working days lost annually as staff takedays off sick due to hangovers, costing UK employers an estimated £960mSource:Reed.co.uk New drinking laws feared by businessOn 24 Aug 2004 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img