Many of us love a cold beer and with the rise in popularity of non alcoholic and alcohol free beers, you can enjoy a beer just about anywhere. One of the places where traditionally, drinking beer would be a no-no is in your place of work. However, if there is no alcohol can you drink the beer? Can you drink non alcoholic beer at work?
Can you drink non alcoholic beer at work?
There is no law to stop you drinking non alcoholic beer at work as it is not classed as an alcoholic beverage. However, there may be internal company policies that forbid it as it is marketed and branded like an alcoholic beer. It might portray the wrong image to customers and co-workers.
There are some laws and nuances to explore in the rest of the article so let’s dive in.
Can you drink alcoholic beer in work?
For basically all jobs, you will not be able to drink alcohol in work. There are not many specific laws banning it but your employer or HR department will have some written rules banning it.
Some industries like medical profession, drivers, pilots, machinery operators etc would be banned due to health and safety in work place legislation.
One law that would stop you drinking in pubic would likely not apply, the so called open container laws. They are in place for public areas only and most work places are not public areas, so this particular law would not apply.
How much alcohol in in a non alcoholic beer?
Non alcoholic beer looks like beer and is called “beer”. It has 0.5% of alcohol by volume on the can, so just how much alcohol is in non alcoholic beer.
There are lots of different labelling and names in the non alcoholic beer world. Ive written a full article on what all the names mean and how to navigate your way around it, you can read it here.
A non alcoholic beer has an ABV of 0.5% or less.
An alcohol free beer will have an ABV of less than 0.05%.
To get a clearer idea of just how low 0.5% ABV actually is, you can look at some common foods and drinks that contain similar amounts of alcohol. Fruit juices have more alcohol by volume than non alcoholic beer and even some breads do!
For a full article on the hidden alcohol in common foods, you can read here
Can you get drunk on a non alcoholic beer?
To get drunk, you need to drink x40 12fl oz cans of non alcoholic beer in less than 2 hrs.
This equals 480fl oz of non alcoholic beer, 3.5 gallons of non alcoholic beer or 14.2 litres of beer in 2hours.
Anther way to look at it is you will have to drink a 12fl oz can of non alcoholic beer, every 3mins, for 2 hours, to get drunk.
It is not possible to drink 480fl oz of non alcoholic beer in 2 hours, so it is not possible to get drunk on non alcoholic beer.
My full article on this can be read here
Is non alcoholic beer still classed as an alcoholic beverage?
The FDA inform us that a non alcoholic beer or malt beverage must have less than 0.5% alcohol by volume.
The Federal Alcohol Administration Act states that an alcoholic beverage is any liquid which contains not less than one half of one percent alcohol by volume and is intended for human consumption. That means an alcoholic beverage needs to have more than 0.5% ABV
The long and the short is, non alcoholic beers are just as they say, non alcoholic and not classed in law as having alcohol.
Is non alcoholic beer an open container?
As we have seen from the Federal laws above, an alcoholic beverage must have an ABV of over 0.5%. Therefore non alcoholic beers are as the name suggest and classed as not alcoholic and do not come under the open container law.
So if your job was in the pubic or public facing, you would still drink non alcoholic beer and not have it classed as an open container. These laws would not apply to many work places anyway.
Some places which open container laws would apply are…
- On a public sidewalk
- Inside of your car when parked
- On the front steps or in the common hallway of your apartment building.
- On a school grounds
- In a mobile home
- In a residential neighborhood
- In a parking lot
If you would like to know more about if you can drink non alcoholic beer in public, you can read my full article here
For all the open container laws by states, you can check them out here
Is there a law preventing you from drinking non alcoholic beer in work?
For most people, there is no law preventing them from drinking an alcoholic beer in work. Some professions are banned via separate laws that cross over for safety purposes. For example, if you drive public transport or operate heavy machinery, legislation such as the Transport and Works Act 1992 or the Road Traffic Act 1988 might make it illegal.
Nearly all companies of any size and any with an HR department will have an alcohol policy. Alcoholism is classes as a disability so you can’t fire someone for being an alcoholic, but you can hold them to the same work standards as a non alcoholic and you can ban alcohol from the work place.
Why might your employer not allow you to drink non alcoholic beer in work?
So if there are few laws preventing alcohol in the workplace but non alcoholic beers are specifically “non alcoholic” and wold not fall under any alcohol laws, even open container ones, then why might you not be able to drink alcohol in the work place?
Your employer might have a ban on all alcoholic and related non alcoholic beverages.
Non alcoholic beer, looks like and is branded like alcoholic beer so might be confused for one another. This can cause issues with colleagues as well as customers or members of the public. PR, image and sponserships etc could all be affected so the safest practice for most work places would be to ban all forms of beer just like you might ban all forms of smoking, cigarettes as well as e-cigs or vapes.