responsible drinking culture

Why Should Employers Adopt a Responsible Drinking Culture?

Why Should Employers Adopt a Responsible Drinking Culture?

In this article, the workplace benefits of adopting a responsible drinking culture are discussed.

Reasons for adopting a responsible drinking culture

The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has issued a warning to businesses to reduce the amount of alcohol served at workplace social gatherings. This is to stop employees from acting inappropriately towards others.  There are a number of other reasons for fostering a responsible drinking culture:

  • By cutting down on alcohol at work social events, employers can encourage a culture of moderation and ensure the wellbeing and safety of their employees.
  • Inclusivity and diversity: Not everyone drinks alcohol for various reasons such as personal choice, religious beliefs, or health concerns.  By reducing the emphasis on alcohol at work events, companies create a more inclusive and welcoming environment. Therefore, all employees can participate comfortably, regardless of their preferences or restrictions.
  • Avoiding excessive behaviour: Alcohol can lower inhibitions and lead to inappropriate behaviour or misconduct. Companies may choose to limit alcohol consumption to prevent any incidents or situations that could negatively impact the work environment, employee relationships, or company reputation.
  • Legal and liability considerations: Serving alcohol at work events may expose companies to legal and liability risks. If an employee becomes intoxicated and causes harm to themselves or others, the company could be held responsible. By reducing alcohol consumption, companies mitigate these potential legal and financial liabilities.
  • Focus on networking and professional development:  Work social events often provide opportunities for networking, team building and professional development.  By minimising alcohol consumption, companies aim to create an environment where employees can focus on building meaningful connections, exchanging ideas and developing professionally, rather than being distracted by excessive drinking.
  • Cost and logistical considerations – Alcohol can be an added expense for companies hosting social events.  By cutting down on alcohol or eliminating it altogether, companies can reduce costs and allocate resources to other aspects of the event that may be more beneficial or enjoyable for employees.

Employer Obligations

Businesses are obligated to safeguard all of their workers, including during work-related social events. It is advisable to have formal protective measures in place, such as clear policies and training around the standards of behaviour anticipated and the penalties for breaking them at social occasions.  Senior management should lead by example, and make sure that anyone who does appear to be taking things to excess or behaving inappropriately is dealt with immediately. Make arrangements for their safe return home and deal with any follow-up formal action when working time resumes.

Managers have a responsibility to keep inappropriate behaviour in check and ensure safeguards are in place.

Legal considerations

While all the protective measures can be put in place, there may still be cases of inappropriate behaviour. Employers should be wary of the possible legal implications. Under common law, an employer is held ‘vicariously liable’ for wrongdoings committed by workers while acting in the course of their job or in a way that is sufficiently connected to that employment to warrant such culpability. Claims could range from personal injury to discrimination, often involving sex discrimination or sexual harassment.  Employers need to be proactive in taking as many preventative measures as possible to reduce the incidents of poor workplace behaviours.

To find out more information or if you require any advice about adopting a responsible drink culture get in contact with our team of experts.

T: 0330 107 1037


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