Staff cost will limit impact of 24-hour licensing laws

Staff costs alone will mean that the controversy surrounding government plans for 24-hour licensing will amount to nothing more than a storm in a pint glass, industry leaders have said.

A new law, due to come into effect on 7 February, will allow pubs to apply to their local authorities for permission to serve alcohol around the clock.

This has led to speculation about a rise in alcohol-related violence, and the Daily Mail launched a campaign against “the reckless plans for round-the-clock drinking”.

However, the availability and cost of extra staff alone will ensure that many pubs will not be able to stay open all hours, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

A BBPA survey of 50 per cent of pub owners found that none of them were planning to make use of the new laws, and a spokeswoman told Personnel Today that much of the coverage of the legislation was just hysteria.

“Businesses have to make a strong business case for staying open,” she said. “The staffing costs alone would outstrip any income you’d get in that extra period.”

Companies in several areas of the UK would also have difficulty recruiting enough staff to work the extended hours, she added.

Su Beacham, personnel and trai-ning director at JD Wetherspoons, which operates 650 UK pubs, said the new laws were unlikely to have widespread impact.

“From discussions we are having with the company and [pub] managers, only a small number of businesses will be trading 24 hours,” she said.

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