Two things have got me thinking about alcohol and the workplace this week, and No it isn’t anything to do with the fact that it is Christmas and that lots of employees will be going out this Friday dubbed ‘Black Friday’ by the emergency services for the carnage they experience. Firstly, there was a city banker who was dismissed for his behaviour who challenged his employer, heralding much comment about the days of liquid lunches in the City being long gone. (The banker lost his case). Then People Management magazine had an article written by an unnamed HR Director, talking about her own personal experience of having been a highly functioning alcoholic in work, telling us all the things employers should be doing to support people in that position. What struck me when reading about both of these things was that there seems to be a theme emerging of individuals placing the responsibility on the employer to act.

Whilst I accept that employers have a role in caring about the welfare of their staff and programmes that focus on wellbeing can prevent absence and that sometimes addiction needs to be looked at as a health issue rather than a conduct issue, are we swinging too far in generally expecting the employer to take too paternalistic or too maternalistic a role, thereby absolving the individual themselves for their responsibilities to do what they are paid to do, namely turn up, sober, when they are supposed to and perform?

Let me know what you think.