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Addressing gambling harm in the workplace– a business priority or not?

Organisations are continually faced with numerous challenges and issues and must decide where they prioritise their resources to be successful and sustainable. In these circumstances should gambling harm be a business priority or not?


As Gambling Harm UK, we believe the answer to this should be yes. We hope the following may help you make the correct decision for your organisation.


Is gambling harm in the workplace really a significant issue?

Yes, gambling harm in the workplace is a significant issue that can have negative impacts on both employees and employers. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Prevalence: Gambling harm is a common problem, with an estimated 10% of the UK population directly or indirectly experiencing gambling harm. This means that in a workplace with 100 employees, there could be 10 employees struggling with gambling harm.

  2. Cost: Gambling harm can be costly for both employees and employers. Employees who experience gambling harm may experience financial difficulties, such as debt and bankruptcy, which can impact their work performance and lead to absenteeism or even job loss. Employers may also face costs related to reduced productivity, absenteeism, and increased health care costs.

  3. Legal risks: Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for their employees. Failure to address gambling harm in the workplace could result in legal liability, particularly if an employee's gambling harm leads to accidents or injuries on the job.

  4. Impact on mental health: As mentioned earlier, gambling harm can have negative impacts on an individual's mental health, including depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. This can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and higher healthcare costs.

  5. Social responsibility: Employers have a responsibility to promote social responsibility and contribute to the well-being of their communities. Addressing gambling harm in the workplace can help prevent negative social outcomes, such as crime and family breakdowns, that can result from gambling harm.

Is improving mental health a priority for your organisation?

If so, you should also care about gambling harm. Gambling harm can have a significant impact on an individual's mental health, as well as their physical health, relationships, and overall well-being.

Studies have shown that those suffering gambling harm are strongly associated with depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. Gambling harm can also lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and hopelessness, which can exacerbate existing mental health conditions or lead to the development of new ones.

Overall, addressing gambling harm in the workplace is an important part of promoting a mentally healthy workplace and supporting the overall well-being of your employees.


Are there possible legal risks for an employer by not addressing gambling harm in the workplace?

1. Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA): The HSWA places a legal duty on employers to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their employees. Failure to address gambling harm in the workplace might be seen as a breach of this duty and if so, could result in legal action being taken against the employer.

2. Equality Act 2010: The Equality Act 2010 requires employers to take steps to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace. If an employer fails to address gambling harm and this leads to an employee experiencing discrimination or harassment, the employer might be held liable.

3. Employment contracts: Employment contracts may include clauses relating to gambling, such as prohibiting gambling in the workplace or during working hours. Failure to enforce these clauses might lead to legal action being taken against the employer.


Is there any evidence relating to the risks of gambling harm in the workplace?


Research data is still limited but the following links provide some information:

1. According to the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities Jan 2023 report, gambling was linked to a loss of concentration on work, (source: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/gambling-related-harms-evidence-review/gambling-related-harms-evidence-review-summary)

2. According to a Gamcare publication, gambling and debt can be a distraction for people at work. These distractions can have a range of negative consequences for people while at work, especially when working somewhere like a building site where concentration is key to avoiding accidents. (source: https://www.gamcare.org.uk/news-and-blog/blog/problem-gambling-at-work/)

3. Cube HR highlight both health and safety risks but wider employer risks. (source: https://cubehr.co.uk/blog/gambling-at-work/)


If I give attention to gambling harm in the workplace could my business be seen as anti-gambling?

Addressing gambling harm in the workplace does not mean that your business is anti-gambling. Rather, it shows that your business is committed to promoting a safe and supportive workplace environment that prioritises the well-being of employees.

Gambling is an accepted form of entertainment, and it is not necessarily problematic for everyone. However, gambling harm can have negative impacts on individuals and their families, and it is important to address this issue in the workplace to provide support and resources to those who may be affected.

Overall, addressing gambling harm in the workplace is an important part of promoting a safe and supportive workplace culture, and it does not mean that your business is anti-gambling.


Will it be expensive for an organisation to implement measures to address gambling harm?

The cost of implementing measures to address gambling harm will vary depending on the size of the organisation, the nature of their operations, and the specific measures being implemented.

However, it is important to note that the cost of not addressing gambling harm could potentially be greater in terms of reputational damage, legal liabilities, and lost productivity.

Overall, while there will be some costs associated with implementing measures to address gambling harm, they do not have to be significant, and the potential benefits can outweigh these costs in the long run. Ultimately, it is up to each organisation to weigh up the potential costs and benefits and determine the most appropriate course of action for their circumstances.


What are the first steps I could take as an employer to help respond to gambling harm?

As an employer there are several steps you could take to help respond to gambling harm among your employees:


1. Provide education to employees: Offer educational resources to your employees, such as brochures, posters, or training sessions on gambling harm and how to recognise and address it.

2. Implement a workplace policy: Develop a workplace policy that addresses gambling harm, including guidelines for addressing employees who may be experiencing gambling-related problems and information on available resources for support and treatment.

3. Offer employee assistance programs (EAPs): Consider offering an employee assistance program that provides confidential counselling and support to employees who may be experiencing gambling harm or other personal issues.

4. Create a supportive work environment: Foster a supportive work environment that encourages employees to seek help and support when needed. This can include promoting a culture of openness and understanding, providing access to resources, and offering flexible scheduling options to accommodate treatment or support.


Will our business brand be positively impacted by addressing gambling harm in the workplace?

Addressing gambling harm in the workplace can have several positive impacts on your business's brand, including:


1. Increased reputation as a responsible and caring employer: By taking proactive steps to address gambling harm in the workplace, your business can demonstrate a commitment to the well-being of its employees and the wider community.

2. Enhanced corporate social responsibility (CSR): Addressing gambling harm can be seen as a part of your business's broader CSR strategy, highlighting your commitment to ethical and responsible business practices.

3. Improved employee morale and retention: By promoting a safer and healthier workplace environment, your business can increase employee satisfaction and reduce staff turnover, improving your reputation as an employer of choice.

4. Positive media coverage: Addressing gambling harm in the workplace can attract positive media attention, providing an opportunity to showcase your business's commitment to social responsibility and ethical practices.

5. Increased customer loyalty: Consumers are increasingly seeking out brands that align with their values and demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility. Addressing gambling harm can demonstrate your business's commitment to responsible behaviour, potentially enhancing customer loyalty.


Finally:


Gambling harm can affect anybody. It is an illness and like any illness those suffering from it need help and support.


As the hidden addiction, you may not know staff within your organisation who are suffering. With an increased risk of suicide being associated with gambling harm, if your organisation can help, please do.


The NHS is expanding the number of national treatment centres to respond to the demand for support.


24-hour support, 7 days per week is available via the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) or, access support via the NHS Live Well website link. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/addiction-support/gambling-addiction/


There are several support charities who can also help you, Gambling Harm UK is one.


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