Chris Mitchener outlines the best staff training regime to prevent underage sales

When it comes to preventing underage sales and to demonstrate due diligence, it all comes down to the same answer: training, awareness, procedures and systems.

However, procedures and systems only work with the proper levels of effective training in place, and nothing works without awareness of the unique responsibilities attached to selling alcohol and age-related products.

The penalties for not getting it right let alone getting it wrong are far ranging, with fines ranging from £80 to a proposed £20,000, a criminal record, the suspension or loss of licence to sell alcohol and, in the future, the possibility of not being allowed to sell tobacco products being probabilities rather than just possibilities.

So as a minimum to avoid underage sales, and show due diligence in avoiding them, your training regime should at the very least:

Inform staff specifically by way of a handout your requirements your age verification and challenge policy (see www.homeoffice.gov.uk/drugs/alcohol for guidance), confrontation policy, refusals procedure, authorising criteria, your rules on selling and so on

Train each staff member individually, providing examples of all that you will accept as ID a PASS card, a driving licence or a passport under current legislation

Test each staff member individually with a written test paper

Test yourself before training to ensure that you are fit to train others

Authorise each staff member in writing to sell alcohol but only after they have met points one to three

Retrain each staff member individually at least every six months, but preferably every three to four, and then retest and only re-authorise if they pass. Use different test papers and if they fail retest more often and do not re-authorise until they have passed and you are happy to do so

Keep all paperwork to prove that staff have been properly and frequently trained and are authorised to sell this is due diligence

Maintain a refusals register, check it and ensure all staff are using it regularly it’s a very good training tool

These are the basics, and you should also remind all staff daily to raise awareness, buddy new staff with existing staff, watch staff serve daily ensuring that they acknowledge customers, and monitor alcohol sales via CCTV weekly. Use the results of your observations to train and retrain all staff. You could even consider using a test purchase company it all goes to due diligence!

At Licensing Solutions we provide a free training manual which meet all of these requirements and more just contact me at the number above for your copy.

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