I have recently moved to a new team in my company and they often go out for a drink during lunch hour on a Friday. It's only a single drink, but I'm not sure what the rules are regarding this.

In previous teams, I've never been for a drink during work hours (apart from Christmas lunches etc.) but this might have been due to the fact that my new team are friends and not just co-workers.

I'm quite confident that the manager is aware that this is happening but he hasn't attending any of these social events himself nor has he condoned them. I don't want to ask the team if this is acceptable as I don't feel I'm in a position the question this routine event.

I enjoy these events but also don't have a problem with going and having a soft drink or not going at all. I don't want to give up this luxury if its not necessary but on the other hand I don't want to impose a negative image on myself.

Am I over-thinking this or is there a problem that needs addressing?

  • 1
    Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/107/325 May 13, 2015 at 22:23
  • Depends on the wording of your employee handbook. Some outright say that drinking during work hours is prohibited, but others are much more relaxed and you simply cannot let it affect your performance.
    – TyCobb
    May 13, 2015 at 23:50
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    It's entirely possible your manager doesn't attend because he/she wants the team to spend time together without their manager next to them. I'd recommend going along and just not being the first to order, if everyone's grabbing a beer I don't see why you couldn't too.
    – beng
    May 14, 2015 at 3:12
  • Best to just focus on what gives a good impression regardless of what is or is not written in the employee handbook. There is nothing wrong with an occasional drink at lunch hour as long as you're discreet (don't come back tipsy or smelling of alcohol).
    – teego1967
    May 14, 2015 at 7:28
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    Your profile says you are in the UK, which makes a regular pub visit on Friday lunchtimes something utterly unremarkable (source: twenty years working in the UK). Unless of course your company has specific policies against any drinking during working in hours, in which case you would surely have known about these already.
    – AakashM
    May 14, 2015 at 7:34

3 Answers 3


Check your company's policies. Mine currently says that alcohol during the day should only be at events where the company is serving it (which is rare but does happen) or when having a business lunch or dinner with a customer ... but the rule also says explicitly that no real business may be done with that customer after either they or we have been drinking.

Your company's rules may be very different, especially if you're a research type whom the customers rarely, if ever, get to see.

ASK HR or read your employee policy handbook.

Note that there's always my solution: I don't much like alcohol's effects, so when I go on an outing of that sort I'll generally just order soda or juice or whatever.


This is utterly normal for the UK.

It would be an issue if:

  • they're coming back in the afternoon drunk,

  • they pressure you or others to have an alcoholic (as opposed to a non-alcoholic) drink.

But if they're just going out for a drink and nobody is socially pressured to drink alcohol if they don't want to, then in most British workplaces this would be considered a good team-bonding thing to do.

Be warned that if the employer is a foreign company then the implicit rules may be different - in particular, American firms can be a lot more puritan about this kind of thing. Whereas at a French firm (for example) the quality of the food and wine might be considered more significant than the alcohol content.


All your manager chooses to care about is that you all come back sober enough to do the work so your manager is not going to react unless one of you comes back drunk. I don't drink, I don't want to drink - my father was an alcoholic among other things - and the best way for me to stop drinking is not to start drinking in the first place. So I tell whomever that I am terrible at holding my liquor, that I don't drink because I know my limitations. No one has ever argued with me in several decades and I can't recall any occasion where my non-drinking has hurt either my career or my relationship with colleagues and management

You are most likely over thinking this unless your working environment is like a 1950s or 1960s frat house, and I doubt that your working environment fits that simile.

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