Lloyd's bans alcohol during work hours

LONDON • Lloyd's of London, home for much of the world's insurance trade, has finally called "last orders" on employees looking to strike a deal or just escape the stress of city life over a lunchtime drink.

The 329-year-old group said it has recently updated guidance to its 800 employees drinking alcohol during the day, bringing it into line with financial service industry peers, many of which have already looked to curtail boozy meetings.

"It provides clarification on the rules around alcohol consumption, which is prohibited during business hours. The guidance removes any ambiguity on the policy," a Lloyd's spokesman said in a statement.

The guidance is intended to reflect common and business standards, and "ensures we are in line with a number of businesses in the sector who also adopt similar policies", he added. It does not affect brokers and underwriters who work at Lloyd's for other firms.

The move will be a blow to pub-goers at the hundreds of drinking establishments in London's financial district, as the industry reels from job cuts at banks and the impact of Brexit, Reuters said.

It has also angered many of its staff at Lloyd's, which include accountants, lawyers, information technology specialists and regulatory experts, who described it as heavy-handed.

London's insurance market thrives on face-to-face contact, which for many, traditionally translates to building relationships at the pubs and restaurants in and around areas located next to Lloyd's, a Financial Times report said.

Lloyd's, however, is not the first to prohibit day-time drinking. Insurer Hiscox already forbids it. Others have advised their staff against it.

The ban comes at a time of great uncertainty for the City of London.

Many insurers have earmarked London as an expensive place to do business, even as Britain's exit from the European Union adds uncertainty as the loss of passporting rights will force some London-based businesses to set up new subsidiaries in other parts of the EU, Financial Times said.

Last month, Lloyd's chief executive confirmed that it would be setting up a subsidiary outside of London, and has said that the location would "hopefully" be announced by the end of next month, according to independent.co.uk.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2017, with the headline 'Lloyd's bans alcohol during work hours'. Print Edition | Subscribe