Pub operators get court warning over long-hours culture

In the run-up to the relaxation of licensing laws in the UK, employers in the pub sector have been warned to tighten their working-time policies.

The call follows the loss of an appeal by pub operator Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), which had asked the Court of Appeal in Cardiff to reverse a decision to award pub manager Mark Hone 21,000, after he successfully sued the company for breach of its duty of care.

At the original hearing, in July 2004, it was found that the company had not taken reasonable steps to ensure that Hone did not work more than 48 hours a week. He suffered a collapse and anxiety disorder in 2000 after he worked an average of 90 hours a week at an M&B pub in Luton.

Rhian Ashton, legal executive at law firm Leo Abse & Cohen, which represented Hone, said: “He repeatedly complained to his employer that he was working too many hours, yet nothing was done.

“This should be a wake-up call to any business that doesn’t have a working-time policy in place to protect the health and safety of its employees.”

A spokesman for M&B said: “We hold in the highest regard our commitment to the health and safety of our employees. We are disappointed with the outcome [of the case], but do not regret our decision to appeal.”

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