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Should Businesses Limit Alcohol Served at Work Social Events?

Should Businesses Limit Alcohol Served at Work Social Events?
10 May 2023

A new poll from the Chartered Management Institute suggests that employees want work parties to be organised around activities that don’t involve alcohol.

Over 1,000 managers were surveyed at the end of April 2023 on their experiences with alcohol at work social events. The results, shared exclusively with the BBC, show 29 per cent of managers have witnessed inappropriate behaviour or harassment at work parties.

42 per cent said work parties should be organised around activities that don't focus on drinking. Younger people, aged between 16 and 34, were more likely to hold this view.

Additionally, lost productivity due to alcohol use costs the UK economy more than £7 billion annually, and an estimated 167,000 working years are lost to alcohol every year.  


Work Parties are “An Extension of the Workplace”


At work events, employers are expected to ensure that all employees are safe, as well as ensuring that they drink responsibly. In an employment tribunal, it can be argued that work social events are an extension of the workplace in the event of employee injury.

In 2019, an auditor at PwC filed a personal injury claim for alleged negligence after they suffered a brain injury, allegedly as a result of intoxication from a work social event. Staff were encouraged to participate in a “pub golf” event visiting nine bars and consuming a specific alcoholic drink at each one. The employee suffered a severe head injury after falling over.

The court filing states that there was “heavy pressure” to attend the event, and that the rules of the event “not only encourage but make a competitive virtue of excessive, rapid and prolonged consumption of alcohol over many hours from about 6pm.”

Law firm IBB Law recommends a drink-limit policy at work socials. Offering drinks vouchers instead of a free bar, or asking bartenders to operate a drink-limit policy can help to manage excessive alcohol consumption.

Many companies also embrace sober alternatives to social events, such as Escape Rooms, crafts, outdoor activities or exercise classes.

Picture: a close-up photograph of a group of people raising glasses of beer together in a celebratory gesture. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 10 May 2023


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