No more three hour lunches?

So after a bit of analysis, Lloyd's of London has introduced a nine-to-five ban on the consumption of alcohol, making it a gross misconduct offence which could get a transgressor fired.

The analysis showed that over half of the disciplinary cases in the last two years were linked to alcohol use and abuse.

Underwriters and Brokers not employed by Lloyd’s will be delighted (relieved?) to hear that only Lloyd’s direct employees are affected by the ban, which has been met with a less than enthusiastic greeting by staff, who claim that they were not consulted about the ban and that they “can drink responsibly” during work hours.

The Lloyd's internal memo said: "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."

Actually, I think they have a point.  In my experience there is often a correlation between behaviour resulting in disciplinary action and the consumption of alcohol during working hours.  We know, after all, it impairs judgement to the extent that there are laws governing alcohol consumption and driving; you wouldn’t want to discover that your doctor had enjoyed a bottle of Chablis at lunchtime would you?  Or how about a drunk barrister?  Anyone who knows me will know that I’m partial to a glass or two, but I draw the line at lunchtime drinking: aside from anything else, I’d probably fall asleep in the afternoon and yes, I have seen this happen in the city on occasion.

It’s an issue that brokers have contacted me about in the past and often the question is “How much is too much?”  The problem there is that different people have different tolerances and reactions to alcohol consumption, so there is no available benchmark. 

My advice is:

  • Have a clear policy on alcohol consumption during working hours (I’d personally like to see ‘zero’ as a default)
  • Apply the rule without fail or favour
  • Be prepared to offer help to those who feel that they can’t go without a drink during the working day, because they clearly have a problem

If you would like to discuss these issues or would like help writing an alcohol consumption during working hours policy, then drop me a line.

About the author

Kate is the chairman and co-founder of RWA and has worked for the company for nearly 20 years. She is a fan of developing practical, workable, business-led policies and procedures. Kate has specialist training experience within the financial services sector, including major general insurers, and the Lloyd’s underwriting and broking market.  She has researched and developed numerous training programmes, both for commercial and in-house use.  She has extensive experience of developing in-house and public training programmes for business skills, including Diversity, Employment Law, Management and Leadership, Motivation, Coaching and Feedback, Communication Skills and EQ.

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