Lloyd's of London angers employees with 'Orwellian' day drinking ban

Lloyd's of London angers employees with 'Orwellian' day drinking ban

There are many jobs where an alcohol ban during working hours wouldn’t spark an employee backlash. Doctors, delivery drivers, teachers and nurses would all, most likely, understand.

However, workers at Lloyd’s of London, one of London’s most historic financial institutions, reacted with fury after being told to lay off the bottle between 9am and 5pm – the Evening Standard reports.

An internal memo, circulated by the insurance market, reveals the ban was introduced after analysis of disciplinary cases, over the last two years, found ‘roughly half’ were related to alcohol misuse.

Workers have reacted by saying that they should be trusted to drink responsibly during work hours, complaining that they were not consulted over the ‘heavy handed’ measure.

Traditionally, city deals were as likely to be brokered in bars, pubs and restaurants as much as they were in offices or over the phone.

The ban is among changes made to the employee guide, part of an overall HR policy review conducted throughout last year.

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Alan Finlay, consultant solicitor at law firm DMH Stallard, comments: “There are a variety of considerations firms need to factor in before implementing such a policy. Consultation and communication with staff beforehand can make the introduction of a new policy like this much smoother.

“It can also raise interesting questions about how far the employer’s reach goes into a employee’s private life. And what if an employee with an impeccable record goes out at lunchtime to celebrate a one off lifetime event and comes back unable to work? While many employers would let this slide once, ACAS recommends a final written warning.”

The Evening Standard reports that employee comments, shared on the internal intranet in reaction to the ban, have included: “Did I just wake up from my drunken drug induced slumber to find we are now living in Orwell’s 1984? Lloyd’s used to be a fun place to work. Now it is the PC capital of the world where you can’t even go out for a lunchtime pint anymore?”

Another comment argues: “The real irony is that this policy comes eight weeks after the Christmas Party, when staff were plied with copious amounts of alcohol all evening with very little food to be found... were these the actions of a responsible employer?”

Commentators have noted the ban as part of a wider culture of change among City workers.

Laura Willoughby, a former Islington Councillor who founded Club Soda, which City workers can join to tackle dependence on alcohol, said many City firms are looking to change their culture.

She said: “One reason people are cutting down is because people are ambitious and want to do well. But companies are now thinking about the culture in their companies and are thinking about the diversity of the City. They want to recruit young talent and under-25s are now drinking less than other age groups.

“They are also wanting to recruit people from other backgrounds, and there are a larger number of people not drinking for health and religious reasons. It’s a British thing that we commiserate and celebrate with alcohol, but companies are finding it’s not necessarily inclusive.”

The Lloyd’s internal memo to staff acknowledges that “the London market historically had a reputation for daytime drinking”, but that the time for change has come.

It 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.”

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Comments (1)

  • Big Dog
    Big Dog
    Fri, 17 Feb 2017 9:56am GMT
    A lunchtime with no beer???? What is this, the middle ages!

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