Literature study / Policy report

Alcohol and the workplace - A report on the impact of work place policies and programmes to reduce the harm done by alcohol to the economy
Peter Anderson

Wealth and alcohol
Even within the European Union, in general, the lower the wealth of a country, the lower the level of alcohol consumption (and the greater the proportion of abstainers) but the greater the burden of alcohol-related harm per litre of alcohol consumed.

Alcohol and lost productivity
There is a relationship between societal and individual level alcohol consumption and sickness absence, with alcohol being a significant risk factor for absenteeism and presenteeism, largely in a dose response manner. Although there are inherent difficulties in estimating productivity losses in social cost studies, in general, about half of the overall social costs of alcohol are due to lost productivity.

Alcohol and inequalities
Alcohol is a major cause of inequalities in premature mortality between and within the countries of the Union. Inequalities in premature mortality are in turn an impediment to economic efficiency and productivity.

Alcohol policies and lost productivity costs
Alcohol policies can, to a considerable extent, reduce lost productivity costs due to alcohol. Tax and price policies are, if anything, likely to lead to an overall increase in jobs (rather than job losses) and increase profits for the alcohol industry.

Work place structural factors
Structural factors at the workplace (high demand but low reward) increase the risk of alcohol use disorders. In contrast, no studies have tested the impact of changes in structural factors on alcohol related harm; one study has suggested that managerial style may be associated with differences in harm.

Work place policies
There are very few studies that evaluate the impact of work place based policies to reduce alcohol-related harm. Nevertheless, from the limited literature, brief interventions, interventions contained within health and life-style checks, psychosocial skills training and peer referral may all have the potential to produce beneficial, although rather small results.

The extent to which work place based alcohol policies and programmes can contribute to reducing the harm done by alcohol to the economy of the European Union is not much. Work place policies should nevertheless be implemented and maintained for the simple reason that they can bring health gain. But, even if widely implemented they will only have limited impact at most on the economy. On the other hand, it is clear that alcohol policies that reduce overall levels of consumption will reduce the harm done by alcohol to the economy of the European Union, and have the potential of substantially doing so. A key option here is alcohol price policy which has the potential of substantially reducing alcohol-related harm, sickness absence and the social costs of alcohol and of increasing employment.

Literature study Alcohol and the workplaceLiterature study Alcohol and the workplace (0,96 MB)

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