25 % of UK employees admit working under the influence!


A recent survey revealed that one-in-four UK workers have admitted to working whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

ELAS, commissioned One Poll to conduct a national survey of 1,500 workers to determine what causes absence from work.

ELAS’ findings are sure to raise concerns for employers, with up to 17 million working days thought to be lost each year due to alcohol-related sickness and the cost of this to UK employers estimated to be £1.7bn (Home Office and National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence).It is not only workplaces that are affected. The survey also revealed that more than one-in-five workers admitted to driving to work while feeling over the drink-drive limit.


These results are particularly telling at this time of year as the UK population is expected to drink 41 per cent more in December compared with the annual monthly average (NHS statistics).  Scotland has recently lowered the legal limit for drink driving that means the new limit will now be 50mg in every 100ml of blood, in-line with most other European countries. It would mean the legal limit would be lower than across the rest of the UK – where the limit is currently 80mg in every 100ml of blood.


The survey also revealed the worst offending regions for working whilst intoxicated. London topped the poll, with 32 percent of those asked admitting to working whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the West Midlands (30 per cent) and Yorkshire and Humber (27 per cent) came in second and third respectively.


Northern Ireland and the East Midlands were revealed to be the least likely offenders, with 15 per cent of workers in both regions admitting to the offence, less than half that of those in London.


Table of Regional Results (Working Under the Influence):


London 31.91%
West Midlands 30.46%
Yorkshire and Humber 27.41%
East Anglia 26.37%
Scotland 23.48%
North East 22.86%
North West 21.89%
Wales 17.12%
Northern Ireland 15.87%
East Midlands 15.79%




Table of Regional Results (Driving Whilst Feeling Over the Limit):


West Midlands 31.13%
London 28.02%
North East 27.62%
Yorkshire and Humber 25.93%
North West 24.26%
East Anglia  21.98%
East Midlands 21.05%
Wales 18.92%
Scotland 18.26%
South East 18.25%
Northern Ireland 14.29%



Danny Clarke, head of Occupational Health and Safety at ELAS, says:  “A quarter of UK workers admitting to working whilst intoxicated creates massive safety implications. Employers must step-up and take action to ensure safe working practices at all times – especially when offences become more prevalent over the Christmas period.

“This is particularly important for industries where workers are required to operate machinery, transport or come in to contact with the public. Ideally, companies should have a policy relating to alcohol and drugs that may include testing procedures which are seen as best-practice in all industries. In those where the consequences could be fatal, having a testing procedure is the best way to safeguard against liability and ensure safety on site is maintained.”

Danny adds: “Employers UK-wide must ensure that workers are aware of the dangers of both working and driving whilst under the influence of an intoxicating substance.


To discuss your Drug & Alcohol Policy please contact us direct on 01603 358 171