An employee caused controversy the other day, when they brought in some alcohol-free beer to drink during the working day. Whilst I understand it does not have alcohol in, for those that do not know it is 0% they might think it means that it is acceptable to drink alcohol at work, or give customers a poor impression of our employees. What is the legal position on this?
Consuming a non-alcoholic drink in the workplace is not illegal. As to whether it is acceptable or not will ultimately depend upon your company stance and whether you want to prevent employees from drinking them whilst in work.
This is not the first time that employers have had to make such a judgment. Whilst smoking in the workplace is illegal the recent rise in vaping has made employers consider whether they will allow vaping in work or not. Most employers consider vaping unacceptable, and they have updated their policies to reflect this. In a similar vein employers may also choose to include in their policies a management instruction that drinking non-alcoholic drinks in the workplace is not allowed.
If you, however, do allow non-alcoholic drinks in the workplace, you will need to consider how you will monitor what your employees are drinking given how alike the bottles or cans look to drinks containing alcohol. Many employers may decide that it is a problem that they could just do without and so decide to deem it unacceptable in the workplace.