Closing Time: WPP Outlines Workplace Drinking Policy


Holding company distances itself from ‘Mad Men’ era with alcohol guidelines…

It’s the last call for the drink trolley at WPP’s agencies.

The holding company’s back office sent a memo on “alcohol and the workplace” to staff this week outlining its policy on “ensuring the safe consumption of alcohol by employees and other guests at work-related events.”

The guidance, obtained by Campaign‘s sister title PRWeek, stated firms should not serve alcohol in work areas, specifically noting, “No drinks trolleys should be provided nor alcohol consumed at desks or in work areas.”

It encouraged agencies to limit alcohol to designated areas such as dining rooms, lounges, and on-site bars, and for a restricted period of time, “generally no more than two hours” outside the workday. The memo also urged agencies to make food available, as well as free water and non-alcoholic beverages, and to respect the wishes of individuals who choose not to drink alcohol.

Firms must also order safe travel home for staffers who are impaired and restrict service of alcohol to attendees of legal drinking age, according to the memo, which was sent by group finance director Paul Richardson and director of the internal audit Paul Stanley.

Top WPP executives distributed the memo as the board investigates allegations of improper behavior and misuse of company assets against chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell. The holding company also recently settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former J Walter Thompson chief communications officer Erin Johnson against the agency’s former chief executive Gustavo Martinez.

However, a source familiar with the memo said it was drafted to update a previous policy, partially in response to changing office arrangements, and is unrelated to the investigation or lawsuit.

A version of this article was first published by PRWeek.