Employers blame alcohol for employee absence and lost productivity

Four out of 10 employers believe alcohol misuse is a significant cause of employee absence and lost productivity, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

One third of organisations also state that drug misuse has a similarly negative effect in the workplace.

Despite the damaging impact of drug and alcohol misuse at work, about half of the 500 organisations surveyed have no policy in place to help them manage this challenging issue.

The Health and Safety Executive has estimated up to 14 million working days are lost each year due to alcohol-related problems, costing British industry £2bn a year.

The survey also finds employers could do more to support employees with substance dependency problems, with only 38% of employers providing co-ordinated rehabilitation support to help individuals with drug or alcohol problems return to work after treatment.

Only a half of employers provide access to counselling or to occupational health services for employees fighting drink or drug problems.

However, the survey found that where organisations refer employees with drug or alcohol problems to specialist treatment or give them rehabilitation support, more than 60% remained working for the organisation after successfully managing their problem.

Ben Willmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, and author of the report, said: “Supporting employees with drug and alcohol problems has a high success rate with many individuals returning to work.

“But organisations must make employees aware of the policies and support in place otherwise they will not have the confidence to hold their hand up and acknowledge they have a problem and need help.”

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