Revelations of alleged sexual assault, harassment and bullying in Canberra have pushed a wider debate about what some feminine MPs have described as a “poisonous office tradition” at parliament home.
Some have now floated the concept of alcohol testing politicians at work, with one saying:
We have to have a minimum of accountable consuming. However even ministers have mentioned to me, ‘You realize what Katie, I believe even a dry atmosphere may not be a foul factor for parliament.’
Most workplaces don’t enable their staff to be drunk at work. Most don’t even enable consuming throughout work hours any extra. So a ban on consuming whereas working is nice coverage.
However an alcohol ban or alcohol testing at parliament home doesn’t clear up the broader drawback of a sexist or misogynistic office tradition.
Though most sexual harassment and bullying is associated with alcohol use, alcohol just isn’t the explanation folks harass, bully or intimidate. The elemental drawback behind these behaviours is attitudes to ladies.
Alcohol testing on-site doesn’t repair cultural points
Alcohol causes disinhibition and may result in poor determination making. So it’s a threat issue for issues. It makes unhealthy behaviour extra doubtless, however it doesn’t trigger these points by itself. Attitudes that result in sexual harassment and assault are a way more complicated drawback to resolve.
The query of whether or not alcohol ought to be allowed at work is totally separate from whether or not testing is an effective device to handle the issue. Testing on-site doesn’t handle these deeper cultural points.
In our court docket system, alcohol or different drug use is mostly not considered an argument for a decreased sentence. There’s an affiliation between alcohol and different drug use and crimes however it’s thought of a threat issue, not a trigger.
Testing is usually the very first thing folks consider when there’s an issue the place alcohol or different medication are concerned. It’s easy and it’s measurable, so it’s generally seen as a straightforward resolution to a fancy drawback. Nonetheless, it’s not a very effective mechanism for addressing the issues that come up round office alcohol and different drug use.
As colleagues and I argued in a previous Dialog article,
To be efficient, a office coverage must be a part of a broader wholesome office resolution that considers drug and alcohol use, psychological well being, fatigue and different impacts on health for work. In depth supervisor and employee session is crucial for efficient uptake and implementation.
A transparent and well-defined coverage consists of training and coaching for managers and staff, and recognized referral choices resembling an worker help program.
Workplaces with efficient drug and alcohol insurance policies have happier, more healthy and extra productive workers and decreased absenteeism and presenteeism.
There’s a spot for a dialogue about alcohol use at parliament home, as in any office. However alcohol testing on-site is only one small a part of that dialogue.
Alcohol and the Canberra tradition
Alcohol testing at parliament home just isn’t prone to clear up the sorts of issues some feminine MPs have raised, resembling having to cope with sexist comments and attitudes at work.
Alcohol testing at work additionally doesn’t cease folks from consuming outdoors work time, the place many of those incidents happen. Folks will nonetheless have drinks after work with workmates and attend work capabilities the place alcohol is served.
Most of the current allegations relate to consuming that largely occurred away from parliament home, outdoors work hours.
And there are many women and men who get drunk with pals or workmates and so they aren’t perpetrators or victims of harassment or assault.
Office alcohol-testing isn’t any silver bullet
There’s a rising physique of proof alcohol-related interventions amongst individuals who work in male-dominated industries.
I led a scientific review of the analysis, printed within the Journal of Males’s Well being. Males are usually heavier drinkers of alcohol than ladies, so are at better threat of a variety of well being and social issues.
Nonetheless, office alcohol testing insurance policies, which have been examined in quite a few research, did not have a measurable impact on general consuming charges.
Alcohol and drug testing within the office just isn’t as frequent as many individuals assume. It tends to be concentrated in safety-sensitive industries. Routine alcohol and drug testing is much less frequent in workplaces which are extra company or administrative.
Most workplaces which have office alcohol and drug testing, resembling mining websites, achieve this as a result of persons are working heavy equipment, autos or gear. They’re usually doing work the place, if alcohol was concerned, damage or dying is a chance.
Most workplaces which have testing in place even have a broader coverage that ensures persons are match for work. This consists of effectively developed techniques for training at induction, clear tips about what occurs in the event you check constructive, coaching for workers and managers and counselling and therapy out there if wanted. Match-for-work insurance policies means wanting fastidiously at points resembling stress, fatigue and anxiousness.
In different phrases, even the place there may be office alcohol or drug testing, it’s woven into a much wider set of well being and security insurance policies. By itself, it’s no silver bullet.