Fifth of businesses failing to offer drug and alcohol support to employees

Kalila Sangster
·2 mins read
Over a quarter of employees said that their alcohol consumption had gone up due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Getty
Over a quarter of employees said that their alcohol consumption had gone up due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Getty

A fifth of employers do not offer proactive support to workers on issues of drug and alcohol misuse, new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has found.

Just 12% of firms provide line managers with one-off training in their company’s drug and alcohol policies and procedures, and only 25% continue to provide regular top-up training, according to the CIPD’s new report Managing Drug and Alcohol Misuse at Work.

Only 26% of managers are trained to recognise the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol misuse, while just 32% are trained in how to manage and support employees with these issues.

The report highlights the need for firms to reconsider their approach to drug and alcohol misuse as these issues are affecting UK businesses — 35% of employers have disciplined an employee for alcohol misuse in the last two years, and 26% for drug misuse.

The CIPD is calling on businesses to take a “preventative and proactive approach” to the problem by investing in “training and proactive support through Employee Assistance Programmes or access to occupational health.”

READ MORE: Half of UK employees have lied at work

More than a quarter (27%) of employees said that their alcohol consumption had gone up due to the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions.

Employees with a high workload were more likely to say their alcohol consumption had risen, compared to workers who felt their workload was about right.

More than a third (37%) of workers who had seen a change in their caring responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic were significantly more likely to report higher alcohol consumption compared to those who hadn’t (25%).

Alcohol sales in the UK skyrocketed under the coronavirus lockdown with supermarkets’ sales of alcohol 50% higher in May than a year before, according to the data from market research firm Kantar.

Just 27% of businesses provide employees with information about how to disclose an issue with alcohol or drugs, the CIPD found.

READ MORE: Injury and illness from work twice as high for lower-earning workers

A significant number of firms do not give staff any paid or unpaid time off for treatment — 61% don’t give paid time off for treatment to support employees with alcohol misuse and 65% don’t provide it for treatment for drug misuse.

Nearly half (49%) do not give any unpaid leave for treatment for alcohol misuse and half don’t give unpaid time off for drug misuse.

The CIPD said their findings suggest that employer support can have “positive long-term impacts for people’s career and for employers in retaining their staff,” as 69% of businesses said the most recent employee they had referred to treatment or rehabilitation for drug or alcohol misuse had remained working for the organisation.