HR employee wellbeing policies should include alcohol awareness programmes, says CIPD’s Ben Willmott

Human resourcces (HR) will need to play its part in preventing employees drinking too much, as well as dealing with those who already have alcohol problems, the CIPD has urged.

Ben Willmott, CIPD employee relations adviser, has urged employers to provide more information to staff about the potential impact of excessive drinking and give more advice as part of an overall responsibility to ensure employee wellbeing.

He told Personnel Today: “Employers have a role to prevent their employees from drinking too much. But it shouldn’t be seen as a bolt-on – it is part of the bigger picture of providing employee wellbeing programmes.”

Willmott said HR should eliminate stress at work by offering flexible working practices and employee assistance programmes. Access to one-to-one counselling and occupational health services should also be available for employees, he said.

The move to make employers take responsibility for preventing alcohol misuse comes on the back of a CIPD report which found four out of 10 employers believe alcohol misuse is a significant cause of employee absence and lost productivity.

Next week also sees the pub industry play its part in educating youngsters about anti-social drinking, as it launches an alcohol education qualification.

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) will kick-start the newly created Certificate in Alcohol Awareness on 3 October, following recent Department for Children, Schools and Families guidance proposing that alcohol education be part of the national curriculum.

John McNamara, BII chief executive, said: “Education is key to changing young peoples’ attitudes to alcohol and, hopefully, will take a step towards tackling the binge drinkers of tomorrow.”

However, Willmott said it would be “one step too far” to introduce alcohol education training into the workplace.

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