Saturday, 4 February 2012

'He's Having A Go At The Flowers Now!'

He is Eric Appleby, chairman of 'leading national charity' Alcohol Concern. Not content with trying to force their neo-pro fundamentalism down the throats of the retail sector, they've now teamed up with something called BreathScan to take on the FTSE 250. A press release issued on Thursday sets forth, thus...
Alcohol Concern calls for specific inclusion of alcohol policy in the Corporate Governance Code. Partnership with BreathScan announced to tackle workplace drinking culture and improve employee wellbeing and productivity.
They continue:
Under the Corporate Governance Code, listed companies must provide a framework for risk to be assessed and managed and ensure the necessary human resources are in place to meet business objectives and obligations to shareholders. Alcohol Concern argues that an effective alcohol policy is a material component of business strategy and that, as employees are a key business asset, Boards should have a formal responsibility to address financial losses incurred through their reduced performance caused by alcohol. By failing to do this, and in many cases to even recognise the impact of alcohol misuse, Boards are neither complying with the spirit or the letter of the Code.
How do they know all this? Here's the research methodology used by BreathScan:
BreathScan looked at published materials such as annual reports and websites for each company, as well as contacting their HR departments to ask whether they had an alcohol policy. Out of the 250 companies, six actually stated that they have no plans to implement such a policy in the future and another two said they would only do so if forced by law to do so.
Impressive, eh? Read some websites, make a few calls. Frowning in print, Eric Appleby commented:
Companies simply have to address attitudes to alcohol and drinking behaviours - it is costing the economy billions every year. The evidence is that Boards are not taking the issue seriously and that’s why we are calling on the Government to include alcohol policy as a specific requirement under the Corporate Governance Code...
(my bold emphasis there)
Except, this probably isn't the issue this lot are making it out to be. You will have noted that BreathScan don't appear to have asked companies about their performance management and disciplinary processes, which is where I'd expect any issues related to staff misuse of alcohol to be resolved. Well, Eric might opine, we're aiming to tackle the workplace drinking culture. It needs to be addressed proactively. Fine. Where's the evidence for that, then? Eric trots out some 2004 Government estimates on the costs to the economy of alcohol-related loss of productivity and absenteeism. But there's nothing in there that indicates a particular problem in listed companies.

And where's the evidence that alcohol is a significant risk? Of course, Eric and his fellow travellers would say that, wouldn't they. The bloke from BreathScan seems to suggest it's dragging down UK PLC. Silly me, I thought it was an out-of-control financial system. Maybe all those bankers were pissed?

BreathScan makes those breath-testing scanners. I imagine they'd love to have a new market open up with lots of wealthy companies introducing mandatory testing of employees, all providing a breath sample whenever required to do so by their employer. Of course, some businesses need to have monitoring of staff. Transport for London does it, process-intensive industries do it. The military does it. But this looks like some kind of 'thin-end' exercise to encourage companies to start dictating what their staff can and can't do when they're off the clock. And of course, the workplace awareness courses and technology would be supplied by Alcohol Concern and their police-state partners.

The Government are supposed to cutting red-tape, so hopefully this idea will be strangled at birth. You fear though, that with the current 'policy-lite' approach of the coalition, that it's the sort of nonsense that could wind up being champoined by some bright-eyed MP with their eyes on progress up the greasy pole...


Curmudgeon said...

Well, companies are already refusing to employ smokers - even if they only do it in their own time - so how long before the same happens to drinkers?

Sid Boggle said...

Really? I didn't know that. Examples?

Curmudgeon said...

See, for example, here:

"The right of an employer to refuse to hire smokers is now being exercised by numerous employers and increasing numbers of states, local authorities and courts are, with a few exceptions, recognizing that right."

A quick Google will throw up plenty of examples. It would be naive in the extreme to imagine that similar policies will never be extended to drinkers, although of course initially the ban would no doubt be confined to those who exceed official "guidelines".

Cooking Lager said...

Most modern employment contracts forbid lunchtime drinking.

Drug and drink testing is common in the US

Only a matter of time before you boozers are found out and canned.

Sid Boggle said...

'Modern' meaning when Cookie? I've worked across sectors over the past decade ('til I became a full-time carer), and none of my contracts specifically forbade drinking during working hours.

Ale Qaeda said...

You need not work, Mr Boggle.

Get your Job Seekers and tour the country doing beer festivals. You can live of beer and chip butties & you get a free high vis jacket.