The tradition of enjoying a cold pint after a hard day at work is one that’s been carried down through generations, and plenty of us are familiar with the comforting feeling of putting the world to rights over a few drinks with colleagues.
The world’s changing though, and the law has caught up.
At Dumfries Sheriff Court recently, Sheriff Scott Pattison handed two men £450 fines and a ban on driving, despite both parties insisting that they’d only had one pint. He told them: ‘Just one drink can put you over, it’s as tight as that’.
Since December 2014, the legal limit in Scotland has been 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath, whilst in England, it remains at 35 micrograms.
So what does this mean for business owners?
Should you develop a policy on driving? What are your responsibilities? Could your staff bring your business into disrepute after a few too many? How exactly are you supposed to navigate the minefield of everyone getting home safely after an organised work get-together?
Spend a few minutes thinking about it, and it’s easy to see how a friendly tradition can become an HR nightmare.
You could of course argue that your staff are adults, and that making sensible choices ultimately comes down to them. And that’s true. After all, you’re not a schoolteacher, or a carer.
A good leader is one who encourages autonomy, and empowers their workers to make their own decisions. At the end of the day, you can only have a certain level of impact on your employees once they clock out. It may be sensible to make timely reminders about the drink driving laws, especially during times of celebration, but in reality, there’s little that you can do when staff are on their own time.
If hangovers are getting in the way of getting the job done, then obviously that’s an issue that needs to be addressed immediately, and drinking during working hours should never be accepted.
But let’s put savvy business decisions and simple common sense aside here for a second. Let’s suppose that you’re organising a social event after work, and you know that drinks are likely to be flowing.
The right thing to do is always the right thing to do. Sometimes, it’s less about considering your budget and the finer details of whether you can afford to pay for transport home after your get-together, and it’s more about being a responsible employer and realising that in the grand scheme of things, a few taxis aren’t going to break the bank.
Know the law. Take action on what simply isn’t acceptable. Take responsibility, but accept that there are limitations to just how much you can do.
And if alcohol is causing problems that are starting to escalate out of control, get in touch. A confidential chat with us could help you to get things back on the right track without any hassle or fuss. There’s no reason why your HR practices should leave you feeling like you need a stiff drink.