Hungover Brits nodding off on the job

Jun 17 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Seven out of ten people in the UK admit to falling asleep on the job, while almost eight out of ten have taken a day off work to nurse a hangover.

The survey of more than 2,000 people by employment law firm Peninsula – cunningly timed to coincide with England’s Euro 2004 match with Switzerland – also found that only a quarter owned up to taking hangover-related absence ‘several times’ during their working life, while one in ten said they had only done so once.

But Peninsula’s Peter Done pointed out that as employers have a legal obligation to ensure workers’ safety, hungover staff would probably be better off staying at home.

“I think we have all been guilty of coming into work because of a hangover but when it leads to tiredness and risks not only your own safety but the safety of others then one has to ask whether you should be in work at all,” he said.

“If an employee is overtired, then the employer has a legal responsibility to ensure they do not operate machinery or any other equipment.

“An employee falling asleep at their desk is a lot less harmful than employees falling asleep in front of the wheel of a car, or indeed when operating machinery. Employees may also feel tired if they are overworked or stressed.”

Research carried out last month by Peninsula found that more than nine out of ten of bosses expect productivity to be affected by Euro 2004, with almost as many anticipating higher rates of absenteeism.

Despite this, almost eight out of ten said that they will allow workers to watch games if they make up time afterwards.

Meanwhile Investors in People (IIP) have suggested that employers can avoid losing productivity on match days by to facing up to the problem and considering their game plan in advance.

Among IIP’s suggestions are offering staff flexible working options so they can make up time earlier/ later in their day or shift, creating a rota for finishing early, so everyone knows they will get their chance and introducing the 'peakie' system, whereby employees can start work an hour later the day after a major match if they make up their time during the day.

But Peter Done also reminded employers that a lethargic workforce was not always connected to football results but could be a sign of a deeper malaise.

"Many of the employees we spoke to said that being bored at work was a substantiated reason for feeling tired and falling asleep on the job," he said. "Many employees complained of a lack of variety in their job role, with many stipulating that the job was monotonous.”