One in six UK workers have partaken of alcohol during working hours, a shock YouGov survey of 1,500 full time employees commissioned by Royal & SunAlliance has revealed.
Or rather, one sixth of the Brit workforce has been "under the influence of alcohol at work in the last six months", while two million wobbly employees have pulled a hangover-induced sickie during the same period.
This "crisis" is, according to Royal & SunAlliance's Alcohol in the Workplace, set to escalate into a full-blown business disaster next month as staff abandon their desks and rush to the nearest boozer before sinking the obligatory twelve pints as England go down 3-1 to Trinidad and Tobago.
Indeed, an estimated 2.9m workers - representing one tenth of the working population - will bunk off early to watch the footie. Of these, 1.4m will soak up a skinful in the pub before returning to work.
Some employers have decided to tackle this problem head-on, with 20 per cent of firms planning to show England matches, and an enlightened 12 per cent offering all World Cup games. Four per cent of companies have gone so far as to say they will give their workforce the day off if England win the World Cup, although they must be aware that the chance of having to fulfil this pledge are extremely remote.
The basic purpose of Alcohol in the Workplace was to gauge the effect on business of 24-hour licensing. While it found that neither employers nor employees thought the problem of workplace leglessness had got worse as a result, it does note an "ongoing cultural problem in Britain".
The places where this cultural problem is most ongoing is London and eastern England, where 26 per cent of employees admitted to drinking while on duty. These were closely followed by the south west, notching up a liver-bashing 24 per cent. The north east and north west were identified as not giving it 110 per cent with the lowest pissed-at-my-post 'fess-up rate.
Although the Royal & SunAlliance figures may cause alarm among UK biz's resolutely sober management, there is cause for optimism. Back in 2004, a related survey claimed that 76 per cent of workers got sloshed at lunchtime - a statistic which seemed to augur the imminent collapse of the British economy. ®
A quick survey of the staff at Vulture Central revealed the following:
- 100 per cent of the journalistic staff admitted to sinking at least one bottle of scotch per week while at work - rising to three bottles if they were on "financial results" duty.
- A similar number declared their intention to abandon the office for England matches, with two hacks even admitting to having applied for joint UK/Brazilian/French/German nationality in order to maximise the World Cup skive potential.
- Those among the Reg staff of Antipodean persuasion were 73 per cent more likely to call in sick as a result of a hangover - not because they drink more, but because they simply can't handle the pace.