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Is drinking becoming as socially unacceptable as smoking?

Drinking alcohol is ingrained in our social life as much as cigarettes were until public health campaigns led to a huge cultural shift. With many young people shunning alcohol, is the end of a booze-fuelled Britain in sight?

Nearly 30% of young people in England do not drink, research published in the journal BMC Public Health said abstaining from alcohol was becoming “more mainstream” among people aged 16 to 24 after the analysis showed a rise in the proportion of non-drinkers. However, British social life has in the past been entirely organised around alcohol. Alcohol sat at the centre of the table at dinner parties, provided confidence on the dance floor and landing deals at lunch meetings. So are things really changing?

Although there is a reported drop in young people drinking alcohol, alcohol-related deaths among women in the UK have reached the highest rate since 2008 and alcohol related deaths in men have doubled. So is alcohol just becoming a hidden culture?

Over the last decade, there has been a shift when it comes to alcohol in the working day. The days of the ‘liquid lunch’ and expense account dining are probably behind us now as organisations seek to control costs and corporate liability develops. No company can afford the social media backlash it would get if it were found to be encouraging or condoning drinking in the working day or worse there had been an accident or death because of it.

What happens if my organisation doesn’t have a policy?

Without an Alcohol and Drug Policy, there would not be clear rules for employees to follow and understand what is and isn’t acceptable with regard to alcohol at work. It would be more difficult for the company to manage a situation should an employee be suspected of being impaired due to the use of alcohol, and apply any discipline fairly and consistently. It could also result in an employee challenging a disciplinary outcome, especially dismissal.

To avoid any misunderstanding, all companies regardless of size should have a policy that includes clear rules, an alcohol limit, and the consequence should an employee contravene the rules.

What limit should I set?

Unless you have to comply with legislation such as aviation or rail, or a client’s limit, your business should set a limit that is based on risk; it does not necessarily have to mirror the local drink-drive limit.

For organisations that do not have to comply with legislation, there is a choice between 22mcg/100ml BrAC or 35mcg/100ml BrAC, although some companies are opting to apply the aviation or rail limit based on risk rather than mirror the local drink-drive limit.

Having a policy in place won’t change the world, but it will help keep your organisations safe, and hopefully help those with dependency access the help and care they need.

For more information on our services please call 01827 65999

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