Australia is spending an estimated $453 million every year while paying for overtime when someone replaces his/her colleague for a hangover says a new study.
The study surveyed 1,677 adult workers in 2008 and found that one third had a colleague who drank a lot often and 8% were negatively affected by that colleague's habit during the previous year. 3.5% of these workers had to work extra hours to compensate for their ‘hungover’ colleagues' lethargy. The average overtime was about 48 hours a year.
Researcher Michael Livingston, of the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre led the study. He and his co-author Caroline Dale from Epidemiology and Population Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the estimated cost of this overtime was about $453 million annually when average pay rates were considered. The real costs were likely to be significantly higher, they said.
They write, “While our estimate of the cost to co-workers of alcohol use by heavily drinking colleagues is large, it may represent the tip of the iceberg.” Alcohol consumption was also related to work efficacy thy said. “The cost of alcohol use in the workplace is multi-faceted and considerable... (It) can be caused by a reduction in the productive workforce from premature mortality or morbidity, absenteeism due to alcohol-related sickness, and reduced productivity while at work.”
They urged the government to introduce measures to reduce alcohol intake such as taxes on drinks according to alcoholic content etc. Livingston says, “The Federal government's response to alcohol has been fairly minimal so far.”
The article was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.