25 Mar 2019
Around one-fifth of adults use the internet to gamble each month, and the number of problem gamblers in the UK is on the rise. Here’s how to use your workplace policies to prevent gambling at work and protect staff from harm.
Protect your business from gambling
According to the UK Gambling Commission, there are around 430,000 problem gamblers in the UK and a total of 2.3 million people at risk.
By the time problem gamblers seek help, most have debts averaging around £16,615.
Just like drug or alcohol addiction, problem gamblers cause serious harm to themselves and those around them.
Don’t let problem gambling damage your workers and your business. Here’s how to use your workplace policies to cut out gambling at work and provide staff the help they need.
Gambling at work: when is it legal?
For the most part, you can’t run any form of gambling in your business without a license. The few exceptions include small-scale, not-for-profit work lotteries where prizes are awarded by chance.
So it’s fine for your workers on site to hold a sweepstake before the Grand National and pick the names of horses out of a hat. But it needs to be random, and only the winners can make any money.
What about individuals gambling at work?
As many as 18% of the UK adult population gamble online at least once a month. And there’s no law against workers using your computers to place bets.
The only restrictions you can make come from your workplace policies.
How can my policies prevent gambling?
The good news is, most of your workplace policies already let you tackle gambling at work.
For example, it’s likely that your staff contracts restrict computer use to business work only. And you should have a written internet monitoring policy that lets your staff know you’re keeping tabs on their browsing.
When you combine those with policies to restrict mobile phone use while working, you should have a strong foundation to crack down on workers caught gambling.
If you do want to go a step further and write a specific gambling policy, you may want to include:
- A written rule that forbids staff from gambling at work.
- An internet usage policy that blocks workers from accessing betting sites.
- A well-defined disciplinary procedure for staff caught gambling.
- Your business reason for banning gambling to protect you against tribunals or legal action.
But remember, a worker can follow your rules to the letter, but still suffer from a harmful addiction…
Spotting a problem gambler at work
Problem gambling is often called the hidden addiction. Unlike drug or alcohol abuse, gambling addictions present few physical symptoms.
But there are behaviours that could indicate your staff have a gambling problem.
- You notice they are spending more and more time gambling with increasing amounts of money.
- They have money troubles despite receiving a regular wage.
- They are taking more sick days or have unexplained absences.
- They are often distracted and late for commitments.
- They take longer than expected for unsupervised tasks or errands.
- They’re not performing their duties well at work.
- Their mood changes and they become irritable, frustrated, anxious or depressed.
Addiction is a serious disease, so it’s understandable if you don’t feel qualified to support your worker on your own. Fortunately, you’re not alone…
Setting up an employee assistance programme
An employee assistance programme (EAP) is a professional support service that many businesses offer as a benefit for their staff.
Your staff can use an EAP to speak to a health & wellbeing expert any time of day. Qualified counsellors provide immediate, confidential support online, over the phone, or even face-to-face.
EAPs are increasingly popular with UK businesses because they boost staff productivity, reduce absences and improve retention. And they help employees overcome life’s biggest challenges—from addictions through to family bereavements.
Speak to an expert
Want expert advice on how to use your policies to prevent gambling at work? Thinking about offering an employee assistance programme?
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