Employees at historic insurance provider, Lloyd’s of London have been informed that a failure to adhere to a strict alcohol ban during the working day, could lead to them being sacked for gross misconduct.
The 9 to 5 alcohol ban has been introduced after an analysis of grievance and disciplinary cases over the last two years suggested that “roughly half” were related to alcohol misuse.
An internal memo to all 800 employees stated: “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.”
It adds: “After work, if you are representing Lloyd’s, but no business is being conducted, you can have an alcoholic drink and the onus remains on you to be professional at all times.”
However, some employees are indignant and have argued that they should be trusted to ‘drink responsibly’ either at lunchtime or during networking meetings.
The crackdown on alcohol during the working day is one of a number of amendments to the Lloyds of London Employee Guide, brought in as part of an overall HR policy review.
Lara Murray and Associate with Palmers, who specialise in employment law, said: “The ‘no alcohol’ rule may have been rare 30 years ago but nowadays it is certainly not unusual and shows how the modern workplace, and indeed our nation’s attitude to drinking, has changed.
“It is no longer seen as the norm to have a few pints at lunchtime and if safety, productivity or the ability to focus on the task in hand is negatively affected, them employers are within their rights to enforce a zero alcohol policy at work, in the same way that it would be deemed unacceptable to be under the influence of illegal drugs and other substances in the workplace.
“Any employee who attempts to dispute such a ban is unlikely to succeed. There does not appear to be any specific contractual entitlement to drink alcohol during work hours, so adopting a policy of non-drinking during the working day would not be deemed a change of contract.
“Even so, the key to implementing any change in HR policy is to ensure that all employees are made fully aware of the changes and the reasons for doing so.”
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