The $24B hangover: How drinking hurts the economy
Lost productivity due to hangover sickness costs employers about $7 billion a year
So you’re bleeding from the eyeballs with a bad case of Blue Jays ‘flu’ and you limp through the work day, or call in sick.
But as you reach for the aspirin and water, you probably have no clue that late-night celebration and a searing playoff hangover also means your employer will bleed some red ink.
It turns out the biggest economic drag from tipplers can be found in the workplace. Alcohol cost $77 billion in impaired productivity at work in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s new breakdown published in the latest American Journal of Preventive Health.
In Canada, that figure is just over $7 billion – which puts Canada roughly on par with the U.S., says the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.
The CDC found boozing costs the American economy $249 billion (U.S.) a year (in Canada it’s $24 billion). This includes spending on health care as well as the economic toll of lost productivity, car crashes, crime, and deaths attributable to excessive alcohol consumption.
Adding in absenteeism and other factors, the total American productivity toll from excess drinking approached $90 billion (U.S.), not counting losses from alcohol-related employee deaths.
Most of the costs are attributable to binge drinking, and 40 percent of the total is borne by the government, Bloomberg News reports.
It’s an issue that employers take seriously, but they should really lighten up a bit when it comes to the odd case of Blue Jays fever, recommends Toronto-based workplace expert Mark Ellwood.
“People don’t want to feel policed in the workplace all the time,” said Ellwood, president of Pace Productivity.
“Companies shouldn’t drop the hammer on employees who come in a little late the next morning, and assume that employees for the most part are responsible and care about their jobs,” he said adding: “They’ll give that back to you in spades.”
Though many people are aware of the personal symptoms of a hangover, the effects at work vary from tardiness and poor decision-making to the increased likelihood of having trouble with co-workers/supervisors or tasks and absenteeism, says the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.
Since a hangover is a self-inflicted sickness, the general rule of thumb forbids employees from equating hangovers to contagious ailments or other work-approved illnesses, noted David Doorey, director of Osgoode Hall Law School and specialist in labour and employment law.
“An employer with a policy of allowing sick days for any sickness is agreeing to give workers the day off for a bad headache,” he said.
“But particularly in non-union workplaces, an employee can usually be fired for any or no reason at all, including absenteeism for any non-approved reason or disability.
“A hangover is not a disability, so human rights laws don’t apply,” he said.
“My advice for partying employees: best beware, take some Advil, and get your sorry butt into work,” added Doorey.
Retrieved from: http://www.thestar.com/business/2015/10/16/the-24b-hangover-how-drinking-hurts-the-economy.html