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Monday 22 September 2014

Half of employees admit to being drunk in workplace

Michael Staines

Published 08/08/2014 | 02:30

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A spokesman for Alcohol Action Ireland said the problem is not a new one
A spokesman for Alcohol Action Ireland said the problem is not a new one

Nearly half of Irish employees have admitted to being drunk while working at some point in their careers, according to a new survey.

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The survey, undertaken by employment law consultants Peninsula Ireland, found that 44pc of employees have been drunk in the workplace and 77pc of employers have had to discipline staff who they suspected of being under the influence. The company interviewed 1,353 employees and 649 employers across the island of Ireland in May, June and July of this year.

Alan Price, managing director at Peninsula, said that the company has recently been receiving more and more calls from employers about under the influence workers - a scenario he said may be related to a recovering economy and extra disposable income amongst workers.

"The two main surges in calls are related to employees who are drinking at lunch and also coming in after a boozy night out," he said.

He said that employers, especially small to mid-sized enterprises are finding it difficult to deal with the problem.

"They don't have the flexibility in the workforce to cover for these workers. Employees come in and they are not fit to do the job, their work is suffering or literally they have to be sent home and there is no-one else to pick up their work."

Mr Price is calling for businesses to take a more pro-active stance on alcohol in the workplace.

He added that employers do have a responsibility to ensure they offer sympathetic and reasonable assistance if an alcohol abuse problem is discovered amongst the workforce.

"Employers should not sit back, hoping the problem will just disappear; they need to address the issue from the start. Taking action early can help prevent the problem escalating into something more significant," he said.

Harmful

A recent Health Research Board Survey found that there are between 150,000 and 200,000 dependent drinkers in Ireland and more than 1.3 million people who are drinking in a harmful manner.

A spokesman for Alcohol Action Ireland said the problem is not a new one and if anything the workplace is reflective of Ireland's issues with drink.

"All the surveys show that when it comes to binge drinking we are right up at the top. The World Health Organisation's global status health report earlier this year showed that we have the second highest rate of binge drinking in the world," he said.

He added it is important that we change the way we drink and it is up to the government to legislate for that.

"It is very hard to change the culture in a workplace if people are walking back out into an environment that is saturated with alcohol," he said.

"If we can do with alcohol what we have done with tobacco and take a strong legislative approach, looking at things like the pricing, the availability and the marketing, that would reduce our alcohol-related issues across the board."

Irish Independent

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