2. Harms and costs of alcohol to the workplace

Read about the range of alcohol harms that impact on the workplace


Alcohol consumption has serious implications for both employers and employees in workplaces. This can range from death and injury as a result of impairment, to absenteeism, lost productivity and general low workforce morale.

  • Every year, 147,500 adults take one or more days off work or school due to their alcohol use.
  • A total of 84,400 adults have experienced harmful effects on their work, study or employment because of alcohol.
  • In 2012, 6% of adolescent drinkers report having their work or school affected in the last year due to alcohol. Among those students living in the most deprived areas, 8% report problems with work or school (exacerbating existing inequities in outcomes).

Loss of labour output to New Zealand Society

In 2016, the estimated annual average cost of lost productivity (due to alcohol) per employee was NZ$1097.71 (NZ$209.62 absenteeism, NZ$888.09 presenteeism) and NZ$134.62 per employer. At a population level this equates to approximately NZ$1.65 billion per year.

Loss productivity to employers

The NZ Health Survey 2012/13 found that male drinkers (4%) were 1.6 times more likely to be absent from work or study than female drinkers (2.5%) and that male drinkers (6.9%) were 1.4 times more likely to experience financial harms from their drinking than female drinkers (4.7%). 

The negative effect of alcohol use on financial position was most frequently reported by youth (15–24 years) and younger (25–34 years) drinkers.

Fourteen percent of Māori and 9.1% of Pacific drinkers compared with 5.2% of European/Others and 3.9% of Asian drinkers reported a harmful effect to their financial position as a result of their drinking.