Christmas, is office party time, which inevitably will involve alcohol.
Therefore, it will be the premises and staffs responsibility to ensure you comply with the laws in accommodating your local office party. Excessive drinking is a problem at this time of year and dealing with difficult customers often becomes the norm. You must make sure you comply with your premises licence and stay on the right side of the Licensing Act 2003.
Check with your staff that they have an understanding of whom and who they can't serve by law.
They may be over 18 but can they refuse to serve someone? Are they already intoxicated, are they confident in saying no to someone who has already had too much?
Publicans often think that their staff know the rules but is this something your staff believe is an 'in house' policy or should they/can they refuse by law? Don't assume they know and check their understanding.
Who should be contacted or should deal with an inappropriate customer and who will you appoint to deal promptly and courteously with their removal?
We all like a break at Christmas, but look at who is working? Does the Rota ensure there is a Designated Premises Supervisor there at busy times, who does have a personal licence or have you staffed your business with just anyone who exceeds 18 years of age? Look at the risks associated with the future of your Business.
Underage drinking is a huge problem
Who is buying the rounds and who are those drinks for? In a restaurant; do your staff know about 16 and 17 year olds being able to consume, Wine Cider or Perry with a meal if accompanied by an adult over 18.
Do a risk assessment - do you need more staff, glass collectors or door staff? Importantly, does your licence stipulate you must have door staff and what times should they operate.
Busier premises are all well and good but have you considered fire regulations? Are there areas in the premises that could be an issue for health and safety. Do you need to point out with a sign that the small step in your pub is a tripping hazard!?
Does your premises licence provide you with the correct times to cover the events you may have advertised, including New Year's Eve?
Think about your neighbours, late and loud drinkers cause a nuisance and need to be dealt with appropriately, think about how you will manage this risk with access to a beer garden, customers coming and going or those who smoke?
Are your annual fees up to date? Suspension of your licence at this critical time could have drastic consequences at the busiest time of year?
If your Licence doesn't cover an event be quick to see whether you need a Temporary Event Notice (TEN)
Is your CCTV in working order?
Unfortunately 'Big Brother' provides security with issues concerning unpredictable circumstances where drink and sometimes drugs are concerned. Will you be in trouble if an incident occurs and it hasn't been covered by CCTV because it has been broken since that last incident in the summer?
- Have you considered your signage?
- Do you operate a challenge 21/25 policy?
- Do customers know that drugs will not be tolerated and you operate CCTV?
These are just some examples that should be considered at all times but especially when your trade may be most at risk. When we are busier or times are hectic people often become complacent because everyone is in good spirits. However, a drunken trip up a step, a fight or a large group buying drinks for the office junior may have unsavoury consequences for your licence and may change a merry atmosphere into a business owner's nightmare.
For more information...
At Gepp Solicitors, our expert solicitor Elizabeth Bradshaw can advise you on all aspects concerning licencing matters in Essex and surrounding areas.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.