28 May 2010
Employees are working with the effects of a hangover three times a month, according to new research published by the charity Drinkaware and Bupa.
The data was taken from over 1,000 adults aged 18 and over who were randomly selected from an online panel and interviewed by an external research company.
Using the data collected from the poll, it has been calculated that if the results are applied to the whole population, over half a million people in the UK go to work with a hangover every day.
Nearly one in five (17 percent) of those questioned admitted to struggling at work with a hangover, finding their usual workload difficult to cope with, making more mistakes as a result and sometimes leaving early from work. However, despite these findings, almost nine out of 10 people interviewed thought it was unacceptable to have a hangover at work.
Dr Katrina Herren, Medical Director of Bupa Health and Wellbeing said: "The results show that the after-effects of drinking alcohol are affecting the performance of employees and work on a much greater scale than many of us appreciated.
"Employees should consider how their drinking behaviour may affect their ability to travel to work safely or operate work machinery, how well they can work to the schedules and objectives, and how their poor performance, manner in the workplace and absence can impact on their colleagues.
If you are going to work with hangovers, you should seriously consider how much you are drinking and why.
"Employers should consider the health and safety aspects and the effects of employees being at work or absent and how to minimise these effects."
Drinkaware have highlighted that this will become even more relevant as World Cup season starts in June and July, when we may see an increase in hangovers in the workplace.
Dr Herren also commented: "During the last World Cup we saw some innovative solutions where staff started late or made up time on non-match days, but this is very much dependent on your employer and the nature of your work."
A third of adults in the UK are at risk of developing alcohol-related liver disease due to the amount of alcohol they consume. Liver and oral cancer risk increases due to alcohol too. Heavy or problem drinkers are also more likely to have anxiety and depression.
Drinkaware and Bupa advise employers to have a clear alcohol policy and formal procedures to deal with employees regularly turning up for work with a hangover. It's also important to be aware that hungover employees are disruptive and unproductive and can cause accidents in the workplace. Employers have a duty of care and can ask employees to go home if they are unfit for work. There may sometimes be underlying issues for drinking.
Dr Herren notes: "For employees, if you are going to work with hangovers, you should seriously consider how much you are drinking and why. There are a number of options for advice and help - your GP, your employee assistance programme service if one is available at your company, the relevant charities such as Drinkaware or you could have a health screening at a Bupa Centre and talk to one of our GPs."
- don't drink more than the recommended amounts
- alternate your drinks between non-alcoholic drinks and alcoholic ones
- make sure you drink enough water before, during and after drinking as
alcohol is a diuretic and the dehydration adds to the effects of a hangover
- eat before drinking - a complex carbohydrate-rich meal such as pasta or bread
is particularly helpful to absorb some of the alcohol
- avoid dark-coloured drinks if you can - these contain natural chemicals called
congeners which make hangovers worse