Workers forced to cover for colleagues’ drinking

By June Shannon Heart News   |   17th Apr 2018

One in seven workers have been badly affected by a colleague’s drinking, a new report has found.

Tuesday 17th April, 2018

By June Shannon

The first Irish survey on alcohol’s harm to others, “The Untold Story: Harms Experienced in the Irish Population due to Others’ Drinking” which was published by the HSE earlier this week, revealed that 14 per cent of workers reported work related problems due to a colleague’s drinking.

The specific problems most often mentioned were that the worker’s own productivity was reduced and having to cover for colleagues due to their drinking.

The report also revealed that one in twenty workers reported absenteeism from work due to others’ drinking, which occurred on average 4.4 days in the past year, with an estimated cost of €76.74 million.

A similar number reported having to work extra hours (on average 16.5 hours) due to co-workers’ drinking, with an estimated cost of €45.86 million a year.

According to the report, those more likely to report harm from co-workers’ drinking were men and those in the youngest age group.


14 per cent of workers reported work related problems due to a colleague’s drinking.


Among workers who reported problems as a result of co-workers’ drinking, over one-third (38%) scored in the top half of the severity scale, which indicated “a serious negative impact on workers from co-workers’ drinking.”

The report also found that one in two people in Ireland or 51 per cent reported experiencing harm due to strangers’ drinking in the past 12 months and 44 per cent reported negative consequences due to the drinking of people they know.

Three in every five people or 61 per cent, reported having a known heavy drinker in their life and one in six carers reported that children for whom they had parental responsibility experienced harm due to someone else’s drinking.

One of the authors of the report Professor Joe Barry, Professor of Population Health Medicine at Trinity College in Dublin said he hoped the findings would inform national policy around alcohol in Ireland: “This report provides solid evidence that harms to others from drinking are at least as widespread and of comparable magnitude to the harms to drinkers themselves.”

This report pushes the implementation of the Public Health Alcohol Bill to the top of the agenda again

Enda Campbell, Workplace Promotion Officer, Irish Heart Foundation

According to Enda Campbell, Workplace Health Promotion Officer with the Irish Heart Foundation, “We often forget the indirect consequences of alcohol in Ireland and the effect our drinking has on others. This report pushes the implementation of the Public Health Alcohol Bill to the top of the agenda again.”

“Just over half of us have experienced harm due to strangers’ drinking in the past year, this shows the true extent of the problem”

“With regard to the workplace, our relationship with alcohol has detrimental effects on productivity as 1 in 7 workers have to cover for their co-workers due to their drinking. It can be a difficult subject to approach for employers but having social events that are not solely focused around alcohol can help,” he added.


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