Time Colonist Editorial: Setting rules for our private lives

The Insurance Corporation of B.C. has told employees they may not consume alcohol during lunch breaks. The company is calling the announcement merely a "clarification" of existing policies that prohibit staff from being drunk on the job. But the ban applies to all consumption of alcohol, even a single drink.

The directive has troubled some workers.

A spokesman for local 378 of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees union had this to say: "We don’t want anyone to get blasted at lunch and go back to work — that’s deserving of discipline — but on a Friday afternoon some people might want to have a beer with lunch. We are concerned that this gives [the company] a bit too much arbitrary authority."

Zero-tolerance policies toward alcohol are not uncommon in industry. B.C. Hydro has a similar prohibition. Airlines and some public transit operators ban consumption of alcohol for several hours before coming to work.

Yet those cases are different. Anyone can see why a power company lineman or a pilot or a bus driver should abstain from drinking on the job. Even the smallest impairment could have disastrous consequences. The argument is less compelling when it comes to office workers.

Read the rest of the article on the Times Colonist website…