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Third of employees drunk at work once a week

Nearly a third of UK workers have admitted to being drunk at work, or having their capacity for work significantly diminished through alcohol, at least once a week according to a survey.

A huge majority, some 85 per cent, said that they had been drunk at work at some point in the last year, not including the Christmas party, in the survey of 2,600 workers by

Even 14 per cent of workers who had to operate machinery admitted to drinking alcohol at lunchtime, although no one among 40 respondents who described themselves as drivers, said that they had worked under the influence.

The research revealed that the alcohol was not the only culprit. More than a quarter said they had used drugs at work including 'legal highs', cannabis and other illegal substances.

The problem is particularly prevalent among younger workers, with 90 per cent of those who admitted using drugs being under 30 years old.

'Just one person on the shop floor or in the workshop incapable through alcohol puts everybody at risk,' said Mark Hall of

'In a bank or an office, just one wrong finger on a keyboard could cost thousands, millions, in lost trade. That's the cost of a pub lunch,' he added.

Alcohol and drugs policy

Alcohol-related sickness absences alone cost the UK economy over £1.9 billion a year, accounting for 5 per cent of all workplace absence.

An alcohol or drugs policy can help employers communicate to workers what is expected at work, and what the consequences might be for unacceptable behaviour.

Some organisations now treat drug and alcohol dependence as an illness and frame policies towards rehabilitation, which can help employees get the treatment they need.

Training for managers can help them spot the signs and provide support, enabling them to encourage employees to get help rather than hide their problems.

But any policy should be used to ensure problems are dealt with quickly, effectively and consistently.

Acas publications and services

Acas has published the pdf icon Advisory booklet - Health Work and Wellbeing [647kb], which sets out how to implement related policies and procedures, and gives an overview of what is demanded by law.

Acas experts can visit your organisation to help you develop, implement and communicate effective alcohol and drugs policies for your workplace. See the Health, wellbeing and managing attendance page for more information.

Practical training courses on Stress, Health, work and wellbeing, Absence management, and Skills for supervisors, will make your staff better able to deal with alcohol and drugs issues in your workplace.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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We recommend that you explore further information and advice available on this website, particularly within our Advice A-Z guidance pages. If you have questions about workplace rights and rules visit Helpline Online.
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