It is an iconic image of the City of London: booze-fuelled financial workers knocking back a liquid lunch before a busy afternoon making deals on the trading floor.
But now, City institution Lloyd’s of London has banned staff from drinking alcohol in working hours, bringing an end to the long-standing tradition.
Staff at the insurance market have been told that drinking alcohol is prohibited between the hours of 9am and 5pm. The organisation has claimed the move would bring it into line with other firms – but the decision has led staff to dub the organisation “the PC capital of the world”.
The ban is included in an updated version of the employee guide circulated by the Lloyd’s human resources department.
An internal memo circulated to staff 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.”
Workers took to an internal messaging system to voice their concern.
One said: “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 asked: “Will we be asked to go to bed earlier soon?”
A Lloyd’s spokesman said: “Our employee guidance was recently updated and provided clarification on the Corporation’s position on drinking alcohol during the working day, which is prohibited.”
The move is the latest in a string of incidents which has seen the City – which has a reputation for being male-dominated and alcohol-fuelled – forced to change its culture.
Last year, bosses at an outsourcing firm apologised after a female receptionist was sent home from a temporary job at finance firm PwC for wearing flat shoes rather than the required high heels.