Alcoholism ignored by most employers

UK employers have failed to address the growing problem of alcoholism and how it affects workplace productivity.

This year’s chief medical officer’s report by disability insurer UnumProvident reveals that most employers are not aware of the cost of employee drinking.

It estimates that inappropriate drinking costs employers £6.4bn annually through absence, accidents and violence. Up to 17 million working days are lost through alcohol-related sickness absence and up to 20 million days per year are lost through lower activity rates and increased mistakes.

The report also urges employers to reconsider their policies concerning lunchtime drinking, client entertainment and staff parties where alcohol can be drunk to excess.

Dr Michael O’Donnell, UnumProvident’s chief medical officer, said there had been little debate on what role employers should play in tackling alcohol-related problems.

“We think it is vital that employers comprehend how excessive alcohol consumption by their staff may lead to long-term absence due to cirrhosis of the liver and related health problems,” he said.

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