Office Christmas party costs business £65 million

Article date: 10 December 2004

With the office Christmas party season in fullswing, British businesses could be losing nearly £65 million,according to new figures out today.

The research from Norwich Union Healthcaresuggests that nearly one million workers have taken sick leave dueto over indulgence at the office Christmas party. This adds up tonearly £65 million lost from the British economy because of officeparty hangovers, based on CBI calculations of absencecosts1.

But despite the government’s call forpeople to live healthier lifestyles, the Christmas party spirit hasnot been dampened, as four in five workers said they will beindulging as much, or more than previous years.

And when it comes to good behaviour women may bewatching their alcohol consumption and only plan to drink aroundhalf as many units as men, but they are more likely to phone insick with a made up excuse. But over 50 per cent of men questionedsaid they would tell their boss the truth.

Illness is a common excuse used by party goerswho over do it, with six in ten using the excuse of food poisoning,cold or migraine and another ten per cent claiming to have to nursea sick relative. Other popular excuses include transport problemsand waiting at home for the gas man or plumber.

Other findings from the ‘HangoverBill’ research include:

  • Although three quarters of workers in the UK plan to attendone work party and half of workers are planning more than oneparty, the Christmas spirit has not reached 15 per cent of workerswho are not planning to party with colleagues
  • Over half of people have taken one day off and one in fourpeople have to take two or more days off work following a workChristmas party due to over indulgence
  • Average alcohol consumption predictions for office Christmasparty: Party people expect to drink an average of 8 units ofalcohol (equal to 8 glasses of wine or 4 pints), with the averageman consuming 11 units and the average woman 5 units. Thesefigures are nearly three times the recommended daily drinkinglevels for men and twice the amount for women2
  • Single people are more likely to be feeling rough after aChristmas party as they drink more at work functions than thosewho are married

Favourite workers tips for avoiding a hangover are:

  • Drinking lots of water before going to bed
  • Eating a meal before going out
  • Drinking a glass of milk to line your stomach
  • Staying in bed
  • Eating a full English breakfast the morning after
  • Eating a kebab on the way home

Dr Doug Wright, clinical development manager atNorwich Union Healthcare, said: "For most of us staying in bedprobably seems the best way to cope with a hangover. Sadly this maynot be an option, so keeping up energy levels with regular food andfluids is the best way to get through the working day.

"Obviously the best way to avoid the dreadedhangover is to not drink too much at the party, but if youcan’t indulge a little at Christmas when can you! Instead mybest advice to avoid feeling rough the next day is to try to drinksensibly by limiting the number of alcoholic drinks you knock backand alternate with soft drinks."


Karen Tait, Jo Misson orCharlotte Ruddlesdin: QBO Bell Pottinger on 020 7861 2424

Norwich Union Press Office contacts:
LornaWiltshire: 07788 471 849
James Evans: 07800 699525

Notes to editors:
Research by TaylorNelson Sofres, who questioned 565 working adults 18+ nationwidebetween 19 and 21 November 2004

1 From CBI ‘Room forImprovement’ Absence and Labour Turnover 2004 report. NUHCresearch found that 4% of UK working population of 24,248,000 havetaken time off due to over indulgence. Based on CBI absence costsper worker being equal to £66 per day the financial loss to Britishbusiness due to sick leave over the festive period is equal to £65million

2 As recommended by thePortman Group

  • Norwich Union Healthcare was founded in 1990 as the healthcarearm of Norwich Union and now provides a range of incomeprotection and private medical insurance products that coverover 750,000 lives. It is one of the largest providers of incomeprotection and private medical insurance in the UK.
  • Norwich Union Healthcare is a member of the General InsuranceStandards Council, the Association of British Insurers and theFinancial Ombudsman Service.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer offering acomprehensive range of long-term savings and general insuranceproducts.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases are available on the Avivaplc website at
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio quality broadcast. Toarrange interviews please contact Charlotte Ruddlesdin or KarenTait at QBO Bell Pottinger on 020 7861 2424

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