Employer Responsibilities

Impact of Alcohol & Drugs on Companies and Business in the UK

Alcohol and drug addiction among workers and professionals can have a variety of impacts on businesses:

  • Relationships and Behaviours: Inappropriate behaviour can be disruptive and lead to tension and frustrations at work. Client relationships are also affected. Alcohol & drug addiction has a negative impact on family life which also affects work performance.
  • Morale: Addiction problems are often ignored which damages staff morale.
  • Absenteeism: Sick days due to alcohol hangovers cause disruption in the workplace and lose the company money.
  • Productivity: Alcohol reduces the ability to concentrate and this affects work performance including decision-making. It also causes impaired skills, lower quality of work, and lack of motivation and judgement. Cocaine abuse might increase alertness initially but has long-term effects on concentration and memory.
  • Health: Alcohol & drug abuse cause a variety of health problems: liver damage, cognitive impairment, stomach disorders, high blood pressure, sexual problems, and many more. Alcohol is a depressant and can affect moods and cause irritability often leading to sickness absence.
  • Safety: Just a small amount of alcohol or any drugs can cause a lack of coordination, slower reaction times, and impaired eyesight and judgement, thus increasing the risk of an accident occurring.

Adapted from ‘Taking care of alcohol issues at work’ by Dr. Michael G. McCann MD MA DIH MFOM, Board of Directors, Castle Craig Hospital.

Policy on Drugs Misuse

The Health & Safety Executive has published this guide:

These documents address the benefits to employers and businesses by successfully tackling alcohol & drug misuse in the workplace. The HSE point out: “You have a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of your employees.”

The HSE encourage employers to create a ‘policy on drug misuse’ as part of their organisation’s overall Health & Safety policy.

According to the World Health Organisation global action plan, every employee should have access to a health consultation service at work.