Nipping to the pub for a quick pint is not unusual in the Square
Mile, especially for those in the insurance sector. The idea of
business relations being built in the pub goes back a long way, and
insurance is one of the industries where that comes into play more
However, for staff at Lloyd's
of London, the notion of the boozy business lunch is no more. The
insurance house has introduced a complete ban on drinking alcohol
during daytime working hours for its staff. The rationale given for
the policy was that 'roughly half' of its disciplinaries
and grievances over the past year related to the misuse of
The brokers and underwriters who do
business in the Lloyd's market will not be affected. But, as
one might expect, many of Lloyd's 800 staff are unhappy with
the ban. One staff member posted on the company's intranet
"Will I be asked to go to bed earlier soon?" and many are
reportedly calling the measure "heavy handed".
Lloyd's said in its memo that
the ban "aligns us with many firms in the market" and, in
a sense, that is true. Lloyd's is not the first in the industry
to rule out daytime drinking and the culture generally has, in any
event, moved on a little from the boozy 3-hour lunches that once
One can see why Lloyd's chose
to implement the change – it emphasised in its memo its duty
to be a responsible employer, and it is unsurprising that it has
taken action if excessive drinking has been causing it
That said, there certainly remains
the argument that the decision to make the ban absolute was an
overreaction. A single drink during the odd lunch is commonplace
across many industries and is not a problem in and of itself; the
measure does therefore seem slightly high-handed.
Some say it could also have
repercussions for the business itself. Heather McGregor, writing in
the Financial Times, made the point that personal relationships are
key to deal-making in the market and that face-to-face interaction
– most likely over a long lunch – is the best way to
build them. It could be that the loss of that method of business
development is felt by Lloyd's down the line.
Whatever the impact the ban has on
Lloyd's during the day, one thing is certain – post-5pm
is anyone's game, so do not expect it to get any easier to get
an after-work drink in Leadenhall's watering holes.
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