Trade must get its Act together

Operators urged to train staff on forthcoming legal changes


THE Alcohol Act will bring a number of changes in legislation when it comes into force on Saturday (October 1), writes Mary Ellmers, head of training and development at Alcohol Focus Scotland.

So what are the key differences that you need to have briefed your staff about?
Firstly, alcohol promotions in off-sales have largely been brought into line with the rules which already exist in pubs and other licensed premises.
This means that off-sales can no longer offer discounts on multiple purchases, whether it is of the same or different types of alcoholic product.
Examples of the sort of promotions that will no longer be allowed include three for the price of two; buy one, get one free; three bottles for £10; a percentage discount on the purchase of a certain number of items; and six for the price of five, get the cheapest free.
The Alcohol Act will also impact on promotional activity.
In premises used only (or primarily) for off-sales, promotions for alcoholic products will only be allowed in the alcohol display area or in a designated tasting room or area and not in other parts of the premises.
In addition, no promotions will be allowed in an area extending for 200 metres from the boundary of the premises (as detailed in the layout plan). This includes any flyers that are primarily about alcohol, which now must now be confined to the alcohol display area.
However there are limited exceptions – for example, where a premises sells newspapers in another part of the store and the newspaper carries an advert for an alcohol promotion this would not have to be confined to the alcohol display area.
It should be noted that off-licence premises can sell other items in the alcohol display area as well as alcohol. This could include soft drinks, products packaged with and sold with alcohol, newspaper and magazines or other publications, and branded non-alcohol products, like T-shirts.
A good tip is to make it a policy that all alcohol promotions and the location of any adverts for these are checked by a member of the management team to ensure that they meet the new rules.
Other changes on the horizon include the time frame within which alcohol prices can be altered.
The 72-hour minimum period on price changing still applies to on-licence premises as it did before.
However, in response to issues faced by retailers, the rules have become more flexible for off-sales.
From October 1 the 72-hour minimum period can be applied to individual products. So a shop could change the price of beer on Monday, the price of vodka on Tuesday, etc.
Finally, and perhaps one of the biggest changes brought by the legislation, is the requirement for all premises to have a ‘challenge 25’ age verification policy in place.
This will affect all staff serving alcohol and means that, from October 1, anyone who looks to be under the age of 25 must be asked for proof of age that they are at least 18.

Top training tips

• Provide information in writing that clearly explains the main changes and the duties of staff.
• Hold a staff briefing session to explain the changes and allow staff to ask questions.
• Provide a system of recording any refusals of service, such as refusal log book.
• Once you have carried out your staff briefings, ask each staff member to sign an agreement that they have received information on the new rules and that they understand their new duties in relation to these.