Daytime drinking is over for London finance workers

LONDON - The liquid lunch - once a mainstay for British white-collar workers - may finally be going down the drain.

Financial giant Lloyd's of London became the latest to bar its 800 employees from consuming alcohol from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

Lloyd's, an insurance market, made drinking a firing offense because roughly half of its disciplinary cases in the past year involve alcohol, spokesman Stewart Todd said.

Many employees privately expressed anger that the ban is heavy-handed, the Financial Times reported.

Workers in the City of London and Canary Wharf — the British capital’s main financial districts with numerous pubs, bars and restaurants — had a long-standing reputation for hard drinking. Those habits came to public attention during the 2008 financial crisis.

A number of staff at Lehman Brothers were spotted downing beer and tequila on the London trading floor as they heard of the bank’s collapse, chronicling the beginning of the global meltdown. Lehman staffers later hit the bars in Canary Wharf in droves.

Todd said Lloyd's introduced the ban because the firm wanted to reflect practices both in the city and at workplaces countrywide. U.S. companies were doing this years ago.

“The lunchtime pint is something that has been fading away for a number of years in all businesses,” he said.

An internal memo to the staff said: “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.”

USA TODAY


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