Personal licence holders are required to undertake refresher training every five years; those with personal licences issued on or before September 1, 2009, are required to treat that as the start-date for their licence, meaning they must complete refresher training on or before August 31, 2014.
They then have three months to inform their licensing board that they have completed the training, or face having their licence revoked.
SLTN legal columnist and partner at Hill Brown Licensing, Jack Cummins, has said it’s clear that, “a worrying number of personal licence holders are still sleep walking towards disaster”.
“I’m particularly concerned to hear it suggested in some quarters that there’s a three or six month grace period,” he said.
“That’s totally wrong. The course must be completed by August 31 – then there’s a three-month period for notification to the board – but it’s not a safety net.
“It looks as if jobs are on the line for thousands of trade staff unless they get booked now.”
Jobs are on the line for thousands of trade staff unless they get booked now.
Peter Fulton of ABV Training also warned that “there is going to be a problem” for some on-trade businesses.
“There will be many people who have their licences revoked – mainly because they have wrongly assumed they can be trained up to three months after the deadline,” said Fulton.
“That is wrong. They must be trained by the deadline and then submit proof to the board no later than three months [after].”
Tim Shield, a partner at John Gaunt and Partners, dismissed any suggestion that some boards could extend the refresher training deadline, and warned that completing training is “absolutely vital” for licence holders.
“I’ve not seen anything indicating there’s going to be a discretion put in place and as I read it the law is very clear,” said Shield.
Yet with only a few weeks left to complete the training, some providers have not noticed a particular increase in demand for courses.
“I’m amazed by how few courses I have run compared to the numbers trained first time around,” said Jo Worrall of Twist Training.
Steve Wadelik of Belendon Hospitality said there is still a lack of awareness in the trade regarding the consequences of missing the refresher deadline.
“Some of my clients did not know their licence would be revoked and only learned this at the refresher course,” said Wadelik.
“We will not know until around December how many people have done the course, maybe thousands have already, but not with me.”
And Louise Ramsay of DG Training said it seemed some operators have chosen to either ignore the refresher training deadline or “leave it to the last minute”, and highlighted what the consequences could be for such an operator’s business.
“All licensed premises must have a named premises manager who is a personal licence holder – without this no alcohol can be sold which could have enormous consequences on any business selling alcohol,” she said. “Therefore it is essential that the importance of refresher training within the initial five year period is not disregarded.”
With the consequences for inaction clear and the deadline approaching, CPL Training’s Paul Chase placed the onus on completing refresher training at licence holders’ doors.
“I think there has been a lot of publicity about refreshers and the consequences of not getting the course done on time or of failing to notify the licensing board once you have,” said Chase.
It is essential that the importance of refresher training is not disregarded.
“At the end of the day, people working in a highly-regulated sector like licensing have to take responsibility themselves.”
There is still time for those yet to book to complete their training before the deadline, according to Mark Phillips of the Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance.
“All of our centres have increased the number of courses and places available,” said Phillips.
“In the unlikely event you cannot find a course in your area, you would need to consider taking your refresher in another region.
“The SCPLH Refresher is a generic qualification and not linked to any specific licensing authority, so it can be taken anywhere. So you could take it in Edinburgh but use it in Glasgow.”
Booking on to a refresher course is the first step to compliance, but Linda Bowie of Alcohol Focus Scotland reminded operators that there’s more to passing the refresher course than attendance.
“Personal licence holders must remember that the refresher course will not cover everything that could come up in the exam – candidates must study the book in advance,” she said.
“There are national standards for training – these show what information must be covered on a course and also what information must be assessed in the exam.”