The Dry February initiative is turning the second month of the year into a synonym for a break from alcohol. So why not turn a sober eye towards drinking at the office—and even your home office?
Alcohol has deep roots in Czech culture, and opportunities for a glass lurk on every corner. That’s why roughly 1.5 million Czechs (!) can be termed at-risk drinkers, as the National Monitoring Center for Drugs and Addiction warns us.
In a survey last year by the national newspaper Deník, a full 15% of men and 16% of women admitted to having suffered serious alcohol problems in their family or employment. When it is OK to drink at work, and how can you fight peer pressure? We have some answers to the most important questions here.
What can happen if a person is drunk at work?
Alcohol causes a lack of concentration, lower productivity, and more frequent injuries. And so it’s no wonder that employers try to keep alcohol out of the workplace. But as the workplace safety website bezpecnostprace.info warns us, employers can only do breath checks or other alcohol checks in cases where they have cause to do so. Random checks are not allowed—neither en masse nor for individuals.
And if they do find alcohol at your desk...?
If your employer finds out that you were intoxicated during working hours, a fine may await you. Czech labor law sets its maximum amount to 50,000 crowns, and you can receive it even in cases where you refuse to submit to a test.In exceptional cases, an employee can even be fired for workplace drinking, but only in cases where they have committed an especially gross dereliction of duties.
Can you drink alcohol when working from home?
If you’re sometimes tempted to sweeten your hours spent working from home with a glass, you’re likely not alone. But we advise you resist the temptation. “One obligation for employees under paragraph 106 of Czech labor law is that they are obliged not to consume alcoholic drinks or any other addictive substances at their workplace, and during working hours, this also applies outside their workplace,” lawyer Irena Valíčková reminds us in an interview for Metro.cz. And thus your employer can even feel free to send an inspector to check you at home.
How can I turn down workplace offers of alcohol?
Czechs turn to toasts on innumerable occasions, including work occasions. So turning down a glass with your colleagues or clients can be complicated. But keep in mind that no-one can force you to drink, and a simple “no” is a fine answer, advises addiction treatment expert MUDr. Karel Nešpor. If your workmates do still keep on pressuring you, then try mentioning Dry February or the pile of work you have.
Who’s allowed to drink at work? And when will it be you?
Professions working in hot operations such as glassworks and foundries form an exception to the ban on workplace alcohol consumption. Naturally brewers and taste testers likewise are not punished for heightened blood alcohol levels.
Any case where alcohol plays a direct role in job duties is an exception too. When kept to a reasonable degree, this can even apply for business meetings. But just to be sure, always check your employer’s stance towards workplace drinking, and keep a firm leash on the quantity of alcohol involved.
How can I tell if my workmate has a drinking problem?
You can run into trouble with workplace drinking even if you’re a sworn teetotaller, due to your workmates. The signs indicating that someone at your workplace is drunk are several—besides staggering and reddened eyes, a person like this will likely be unfocused and moody.
“Even if you are sweeping this issue under the rug as a way to save your co-worker from getting fired, your coworker’s health and how it affects others are the most important factors here,” warns physician Kristen Fuller in an article for Psychology Today. She advises you instead sensitively speak with that co-worker or seek advice on your further steps from your superior or HR.
The Dry February initiative has put together a challenge where anyone who wants to can pledge to go 28 days without alcohol. Through this, it is striving to fight excessive drinking and inspire Czechs to cut back on drinking even after the 28 days are up.