Last week I got an out-of-office reply to an email which brought a smile to my face. The lucky person was on a day's 'Birthday Leave'. That's a new one, I thought, and wondered if she had to take her 'Birthday Leave' out of her annual leave or whether the corporate she works for offered it as an additional day's leave. I don't know her personally - she was responding to a bulk email I sent out on behalf of a client - so I didn't ask her, but it got me thinking. 'Birthday Leave' is a nice touch, whether it's something you are given as an extra, something you can take voluntarily from your annual leave should you wish, or something you are forced to take from your annual leave. Most of us put the hours and energy in to do our best. If you've risen to middle or senior management, you certainly know about the hours. You may receive a fat salary package but in most corporate cultures you'll be expected to work longer hours than the people you supervise. I've worked for myself for nearly ten years now, but before that I spent 13 years working for a multinational corporation. One of the lovely benefits of this particular company was the monthly Rostered Day Off. One day off a month - and not out of annual leave, either. Certainly we worked a little longer each day (official hours) to build up the 8 hours we needed to take our RDOs, but the RDOs were a godsend. They fell on a Monday but you arrange to take yours on a different day if you needed to. So there - a long weekend once a month. Time to have a mini-break, or do a DIY job, or have a day of pampering at a spa... It will come as no surprise to learn that this company didn't have many issues with people taking 'sickies'. It was a win/win situation for everyone. While we didn't have 'Birthday Leave' it was rather a tradition to head out with your team for a birthday lunch - usually at the local pub, sometimes at a restaurant. My boss usually found the money in the budget to take me and some team mates out to lunch. We didn't stint on the wine, either. This was the 80s and 90s, and the long lunch was still an option to be enjoyed. And oh boy, did we enjoy it! We all knew back at the office we would have a few hours to sober up before heading home (and if in doubt, we arranged for a lift from a friend in advance). Efficiency and output was certainly down on birthday lunch afternoons, but the spirit of goodwill the birthday lunch engendered made you willingly make up for it over the next few days. Did we feel appreciated by our bosses and team mates? You bet! Which brings me to this triumph for wowserism and OH&S in today's Australian: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/mocktails-win-out-in-mild-west/story-e6frg8y6-1225903176639 I can understand the need to monitor blood alcohol levels in the mining industry, where people deal with dangerous heavy machinery. But now the insidious hand of big brother is wagging a finger at everyone. I can see it won't be long before drinking alcohol at any corporate event is frowned on by the do-gooders. We'll even be made to feel guilty at after-hours cocktail parties or dinners if they are work-related. (I can attest that numbers at Ryde Business Forum's After Hours events are usually down if the host doesn't offer beer and wine, but only soft drinks.) I'm a bit of a rebel; I loved the wild ride of the 80s and 90s with the boozy lunches, not to mention some of the evening functions. I worked at a car dealership in the 80s and had the fun of attending the annual 'trade nights' when the corporate customers and the staff would be wined and dined to excess, with dancing, live music, cigarette girls offering cigarettes on a tray(!), and heaven knows what hanky-panky in the shrubbery. Sensible people ordered taxis. This was the days before mobile breath testing and it wasn't unusual to see someone reeling to his car with an unsteady stagger, collapse into the driver's seat and drive off. Nobody at the dealership ever came to grief after a trade night; miraculously, they all arrived at their homes safely. It's my birthday this month. So I've decided I'm having a day's 'Birthday Leave' (it might make up for some of the many weekends I've worked this year). I'm going for a long lunch with my husband, and it will include wine.