ON THE MATTER OF THE MANDATORY REQUIREMENT FOR STAFF TRAINING UNDER THE LICENSING (SCOTLAND) ACT 2005, AND WHO CAN PROVIDE IT
The 2005 Act imposes a seemingly straightforward requirement on every single premises licence holder: all staff must be trained. This requirement is in the form of a mandatory premises licence condition udner Schedule 3 to the 2005 Act and appears on all licences. The requirement is that every single person who is involved in the making of alcohol sales or supplies of alcohol must have received the staff training required by the Act.
This applies to absolutely anyone – full time, part time, paid, and unpaid staff. The only exception is that a person who holds a personal licence need not undergo the staff training (that logic being because he has completed a more extensive training course such as the SCPLH in order to obtain the personal licence).
The staff training itself consists of 16 particular topics and must be delievered for at least 2 hours. We are not talking about showing someone how to pour a pint or stack a shelf. The staff training covers a series of legal obligations under the 2005 Act and these are laid down under the Licensing (Training of Staff) (Scotland) Regulations 2007 SSI 2007 397. The full list of topics which must be covered is:
1. The legal basis of the requirement for the training of staff under paragraph 6 of schedule 3 to the Act.
2. The licensing objectives.
3. The definition of “alcohol” in the Act.
4. What constitutes an unlicensed sale.
5. The functions of Licensing Standards Officers, including their powers of entry.
6. The nature of an operating plan and its place in the licensing system.
7. The different types of premises licence conditions under section 27 of the Act.
8. Special provision for clubs under section 125 of the Act.
9. Licensed hours under Part 5 of the Act.
10. Offences under the Act, particularly those involving persons under the age of 18.
11. Proof of age under sections 102 and 108 of the Act and the Sale of Alcohol to Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Regulations 2007.
12.Test purchasing of alcohol under section 105(2) of the Act.
13. Best practice as regards standards of service and refusing service.
14. Units of alcohol and the relationship between units and the strength of different alcoholic drinks.
15. The sensible drinking limits for males and females recommended by the British Medical Association.
16. Good practice in managing conflict situations.
Although the Act requires these topics be delivered for at least 2 hours there is no further prescription. Some licence holders will host an actual 2 hour training session for all new staff. Others will make use of a handbook which is given to the member of staff to review in their own time and then bring abck for exercises and so on. In my personal view a full 2 hour face to face training is, at least, best practice and that is my recommendation. I have conducted the staff training myself on a number of occasions on request for clients and there is nothing to beat a interactive session with a few members of staff allowing for questions and queries. In my view some topics deserve more attention that others (for example, I would place particular emphasis on “best practice as regards standards of service and refusing service”) and there are a number of topics which I believe should be a more obvious part of the training but are not – such as making sure staff know all the requirements regarding display of notices and production of documents and so on on when asked by the police or an LSO. There are also parts which are for many are redundant, such as the special rules for clubs, as those rules speak more about technical issues (do all licensed trade staff really need to know that clubs are exempt from the “overprovision” ground of refusal?) than real life issues which may arise with club premises.
The mandatory staff training is something I would encourage the Scottish Government to revist and revise.
WHO CAN DELIVER STAFF TRAINING?
The Regulations state that a person who holds a personal licence or “a qualification accredited for the purposes of this regulation by the Scottish Qualifications Authority”. Personal licence in this context of course refers to a personal licence issued under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. So anyone with a personal licence can deliver the 2 hours course. The second category of person has proven rather more awkward – namely someone who holds one of these special qualifications accredited by the SQA. The existence of these qualifications has for many, including myself, proven to be a cypher for some time and they have not been widely publicised. In fact, there are several such qualifications.
There are in fact around 100 such qualifications and I am grateful to Linda Bowie from Alcohol Focus Scotland for providing me with the list. The relevant details of each qualification can be found on the licensing page of the SQA website. Strangely, the vast majority of these have no link to licensing or the hospitality trade per se and are more akin to general “train the trainer” style qualifications. It seems odd to me that there is no requirement of a decent working knowledge of the licensing laws before being able to train licensed premises staff. Conversely, there is also the point that there is a difference between understanding the licensing laws and being an effective trainer.
The quality of delivery of staff training remains an issue I come across regularly. LSOs frequently report issues of poor staff training (or none at all), missing or incorrect training records and so on. If staff training is not done, then that is a matter for the licence holder – not the member of staff. The member of staff themselves breaches no rule by not being trained (that does not excuse them from prosecution in the commission of an offence of course!). The duty is entirely with the premises licence holder. Staff training is, however, transferrable, so staff need not go through the training if they move to work in a different premises or for a different employer. That being said, I would always recommend that a diligent licence holder ensures that the staff training is carried out on a regular basis.
Having an ongoing training regime is a fundamental part of “due diligence”, as well as being common sense.