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Drinking during a lunch break yes or no?

Drinking during a lunch break yes or no?

Many an employee, on a Friday in particular head to a public house where a drink or two maybe consumed over lunch.  Recently insurance service provider, Lloyd’s of London, have issued a new policy to staff which prevents them from drinking alcohol at any time between 9am – 5pm on a Monday to Friday.

It became apparent to Lloyds of London that over half of any disciplinary cases they had dealt with during the last 12 months had alcohol as a major component in some way or another. Lloyd’s are keen to promote a healthy working environment, so despite the fact that employees in the city are know to drink during the day, the firm wish to align themselves with firms outside of London and have concluded that a zero tolerance approach is the best way forward.

It cannot be said that Lloyd’s staff are embracing the changes; in fact, some have taken to social media to express their upset with the changes. Lloyds have advised that if employees do not comply they could risk losing their jobs as a result of gross misconduct.  

This then raises the question “What can employers really govern when their employees are not in the office? For example when they are on their lunch break.”  The answer is largely dependant on the responsibilities of the individuals, for example if they were responsible for operating machinery it could be said to be a health and safety risk to allow alcohol to be consumed.  Consideration needs to be given to the reasonableness of the request and implementation and always a consistent approach to prevent any possible claims against you in a Tribunal.

From a personnel perspective, it is without a doubt better to have an alcohol policy than not have one at all. This ensures that employees are guaranteed to be aware of the rules. A policy is not to prevent employees’ freedoms but to protect the reputation of the employee and employer along with obvious health and safety concerns.

Lawson-West Associate, Carrie-Ann Randall, comments: “Employers must ensure there is complete clarity and consistency when enforcing any type of new policies to their staff whilst remaining reasonable.  There is little point in insisting on a new policy if it may fail instantly and cause morale to drop. Policies should be fairly considered and transparent as to the seriousness of their requirement.”

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