Some employers stop staff drinking at lunch

Some employers stop staff drinking at lunch

In February of this year, Lloyd’s of London, the City insurance marketplace, banned its staff from drinking any alcohol during working hours. The ban does not apply to insurance brokers and underwriters who do business at Lloyd’s, but it does apply to all 800 Lloyd’s employees, who cannot now pay a lunchtime visit to the pub and have a drink to celebrate a special occasion, or have a drink while cementing a business relationship.

Insurer Hiscox is amongst other companies to have introduced similar restrictions.

Announcing the change to its Employee Guide, Lloyd’s said that around half of its disciplinary and grievance cases in the previous 12 months were connected to the misuse of alcohol. Much of Lloyd’s business depends on establishing close one-to-one relationships, and media reports regarding the alcohol ban suggest that these are often forged in City pubs and bars.

Lloyd’s memo to staff says:

“The London market historically had a reputation for daytime drinking but that has been changing and Lloyd’s has a duty to be a responsible employer, and provide a healthy working environment. The policy we’ve introduced aligns us with many firms in the market.

“Drinking alcohol affects individuals differently. A zero limit is therefore simpler, more consistent and in line with the modern, global and high performance culture that we want to embrace.”

Employers who choose to stop you drinking alcohol during working hours are well within their rights to do so. If your company has evidence that you have flouted the ban, then there could be significant disciplinary consequences. Lloyd’s employees found to have been drinking could be dismissed for example.

If your employer hasn’t specifically outlawed a lunchtime trip to the pub, then it is still likely to be the case that your contract of employment states that you shouldn’t be impaired by the effects of alcohol whilst at work. In these circumstances, you can be sensible and have the odd drink at lunchtime, but drinking so much that it becomes obvious to your colleagues and superiors is definitely a no-no.

Here at Kennedy Pearce we believe, broadly speaking, that our staff can behave responsibly in this regard. We provide beer and wine to our staff on Friday afternoons, and have an on-site pub, known as the ‘Sin and Tonic’.

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