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Alcohol and the Workplace

Lost productivity due to alcohol use costs the UK economy more than £7 billion annually, and an estimated 167,000 working years are lost to alcohol every year. People may attend work hungover or still under the influence from the night before, consume alcohol before work or during the day; or their work may be affected by health problems resulting from drinking. Here are a few examples:

  • 40% of employers mention alcohol as a significant cause of low productivity. 
  • Between 3% and 5% of all work absence is caused by alcohol consumption. 
  • 35% of people say they’ve noticed colleagues under the influence of drugs and alcohol at work. 
  • 25% say that drugs or alcohol have affected them at work, with 23% saying they had experienced decreased productivity as a result.

Ref: Alcohol Change UK 2018

Managing Alcohol in the Workplace

Having robust arrangements in place to manage alcohol in the workplace can significantly improve business performance and forge a strong and supportive culture to ensure the health and wellbeing of staff. Reviewing your proactive and reactive approaches to managing alcohol at work can help provide a range of benefits in the workplace.

Good Practice for Managing Alcohol in the Workplace:

  1. Write an alcohol policy – this is your starting point. By developing or reviewing your alcohol policy you can provide clear responsibilities and guidelines for everyone to follow, and clarifying what is appropriate behaviour and what is not. This should be developed in consultation with employees, the unions and HR. For guidance and support in developing or reviewing your alcohol policy, contact us at 
  2. Arrange some training for employees and managers – employees should know the company policy and be able to interpret the rules and how it applies to them. You can do this by organising a workplace campaign on alcohol using the Alcohol Awareness Week toolkit. Managers should have specific training on how to implement the policy including what to do if they suspect that someone is under the influence of alcohol whilst at work. 
  3. Identify some health champions – it’s good to have non-managerial champions to offer an alternative route to information and support for employees. 
  4. Support and promote alcohol related campaigns – promote sensible messages around alcohol by participating in campaigns throughout the year:
Find a Service
  • Barod works across South and West Wales to support individuals affected by alcohol and drugs, and their friends and family
  • Kaleidoscope services support people and families affected by substance use
  • WCADA is a treatment agency based in Western Bay providing services for adults, young people and families, and people in the criminal justice system
  • MEPMIS provides a free drug and alcohol E-learning training module can be used by individuals and employers. #
  • Dan 24/7 provides a free and bilingual telephone helpline providing a single point of contact for anyone in Wales wanting further information or help relating to drugs or alcohol. 
  • Out of Work Service Peer Mentoring: Specialist employment support for people in recovery from mental ill-health, substance and/or alcohol misuse.
  • Healthy Working Wales can support employers develop their approach to managing alcohol in the workplace. For more information you can email us at with your queries and one of our advisers will contact you as soon as possible.
Guidance and Further Information