Councillors don’t support blanket ban on alcohol for Portsmouth City Council employees

Councillor Luke Stubbs

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COUNCIL employees won’t be breaking the rules if they have an alcoholic drink during working hours.

It comes after members of Portsmouth City Council’s employment committee decided at a meeting that it would be unfair to impose a zero-tolerance booze policy.

They felt it would restrict people wanting to have a drink at an employee’s leaving party and carers wanting to relax at a resident’s birthday.

Though measures are already taken against employees who turn up to work drunk, the council was looking to step up restrictions.

Councillors don’t come under any restrictions because they don’t work to a set number of hours.

Councillor Luke Stubbs said: ‘It was refused by most of the members.

‘There is already a procedure in place about people who turn up worse for wear.

‘This was about extending that policy and make it a zero-tolerance policy.

‘If having a drink doesn’t affect your job performance, and if a member of staff wants to have a glass of wine at lunch time, then I don’t see a problem with it.

‘The reason it was suggested was because the council wanted a black-and-white procedure which would have made disciplinary cases easier. But it would have stopped someone like a worker having a glass of wine to celebrate a resident’s 90th birthday. There is no evidence to suggest we are experiencing difficulties.’

A report by the council’s HR employee relations team said the authority had a duty to uphold its reputation, optimise staff performance and have regard for their health and wellbeing.

It recognised that a small minority of employees may for a variety of reasons use alcohol and other substances to the extent that their overall performance suffers.

The council would face prosecution if it knew someone was under the influence and affecting others.

Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who chaired the meeting, said he had favoured a blanket ban.

‘I would have gone for the blanket ban but that didn’t get support,’ he said. ‘It makes life simpler that way. It’s what almost every workplace does now. Things have changed.’