90% of employees have admitted to drinking on the job.
Even when staff are remote, employers have a strict duty of care over employee mental and physical wellbeing. This means ensuring that staff aren’t compromising their health for their work, which throughout the coronavirus pandemic has been a heightened issue.
“Employers sometimes forget that their legal obligations towards employees working from home apply in a similar way to staff within the workplace,” Andrew Crudge, Associate in Employment and Immigration at law firm Trethowans, recently commented. And whilst all leaders must be aware of these remote issues, the assurance that policies are in place to prevent damage to physical and mental wellbeing due to work usually falls into HR’s remit.
However, one element of this duty of care, which many HR practitioners may not have considered, is the vast uptake in the consumption of alcohol as a result of stress, anxiety and depression.
According to recent research conducted by protecting.co.uk in a survey of 1,300 remote workers, a shocking 90% of respondents admitted to drinking alcohol while working.
Whereas drinking has traditionally always been a part of UK working culture, with 29% of people saying they would regularly go to the pub for after work drinks, the latest increase in alcohol consumption around working hours is directly related to mental health, with 26% of people in the UK saying they increased their alcohol consumption between March and June, when pubs were closed during the first lockdown.
And whilst nine in ten respondents admitted to having at least one drink in working hours whilst remote, a worrying 83% noted that this is a regular occurrence – at least twice within the average working week.
It seems that drinking on the job isn’t the only concerning habit that respondents reported.
The survey also identified a 20% increase in adults seeking help from addiction services about substance abuse in April 2020.
What can HR do?
Whilst substance abuse of any kind can be a difficult area for HR to approach, protecting.co.uk suggests taking the following steps to ensure the wellbeing of staff struggling in this time:
- Talk to your employees – Keep communication open and regularly check in with your staff to see how they are getting on.
- Remind them of employment policies – Be clear to remind them about terms in their contracts about adhering to policies and follow this up with a clarification on what the policies actually mean.
- Set regular working hours – Be clear about what hours you expect home working to be done, so staff are able to define when they are on your time, and when they are off the clock and can have a drink.
- Offer support – It has been a tough year, and more vulnerable workers may be feeling the temptation to drink more than others, so be sure to let them know if they reach out that help is available.
- Substance testing – The more extreme option is to send your employees home testing kits and ask them to test themselves before work to make sure they are able to work.
If you need help in supporting your employees then advo hr can help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation.
This article was first published in HR Grapevine. You can read the original article in full here.