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Survey: Two-thirds of employers grapple with alcohol-related problems

Most common problems observed were employees coming into work drunk or hungover, according to the survey.

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Two out of three trade union workers have encountered alcohol-related problems at their workplace, according to a survey published by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) on Wednesday.

The survey stated that the most common problems were employees coming into work drunk or hungover, and unauthorised absences caused by alcohol consumption.

Nearly 850 union representatives and labour inspectors had participated in the SAK survey.

Kari Haring, a medical expert at SAK, points out that the responses possibly reflect a long-term problem rather than just the current situation.

"This is indirectly suggested by the fact that some of the responses stated that the workplace had a history of alcohol problems that diminished over time. However, the reality is that many workplace alcohol problems are still commonplace," Haring said in a union release.

Substance abuse led to layoffs in a quarter of workplaces

One in four workplaces have dismissed employees for substance abuse, the survey revealed. The figure has remained the same since the 2014 edition of the survey.

"If an employee ends up being fired because of a substance abuse problem, the problem has progressed too far. In such a situation, the workplace has failed to identify the problem early to prevent it," Haring said.

However, employers appear to be more sensitive to substance abuse problems now than five years ago. In this year's survey, 84 percent of shop stewards said they addressed problems, compared to 75 percent in 2014.

The report also stated that 58 percent of workplaces have referred employees for treatment, roughly as often now as as they did five years ago.

Eight percent of respondents said they noticed that someone had been under the influence of drugs on the job, while 29 percent of respondents spoke of drug tests taking place at their work.

Need more focus on preventive measures

Around 76 percent of shop stewards and occupational health and safety officials said they have a written substance abuse programme at their workplace — that's eight percentage points more than in a similar survey conducted five years ago.

Almost all workplace substance abuse programmes mention treatment, counselling and ways to address the problem, but there isn't enough discussion about preventing substance abuse, the report stated.

"Just referral to treatment is not enough, there must be more ways for the workplace to deal with problems caused by substance abuse. Employers should pay particular attention to preventive measures," Haring said in the release.

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