The Alcohol Act has been reformed – what will change?
The restaurants can decide on their opening hours drink selection. Picture: GettyImages
PAM has put together the key reforms in the Alcohol Act – most of the changes affect pubs and restaurants, even though you might conclude otherwise judging by the ongoing debate.
The Parliament of Finland approved the new Alcohol Act on 19 December 2017. The changes will enter into force in stages during 2018. The first change will be expanded ranges of beverages on shop shelves and liberalised opening hours for pubs and restaurants, if the President of Finland confirms the legislation on 28 December 2017.
Right from the start of 2018, grocery stores, convenience stores and service stations will be able to sell products of a maximum strength of 5.5%. The so-called production method restriction on alcohol on sale in shops will be abolished, so that in future shops, kiosks and service stations will be able to sell category IV beer, long drinks produced by distillation (so-called real long drinks) and mixed alcoholic beverages (so-called alcopops).
The majority of the changes, however, affect pubs and restaurants. Amongst other things, they will able to decide their opening hours themselves – but not their licensing hours – and choose what beverages they sell. The eligibility criteria for duty managers and their deputies will also be relaxed. PAM considers that in practice the definition used in the law "other person nominated for this task by the licence holder" replaces the present deputy in charge. There is a real need to have a deputy in addition to the duty manager – it is not acceptable that the person in charge of an establishment’s own monitoring would not be present when alcohol is being served.
PAM estimates that the changes could have negative effects on the safety of persons working in the sector, and emphasised this in its opinions during the lengthy preparation of the law. The new law requires there to be stewarding in pubs and restaurants at night. The new law does nothing about working alone and the extended ranges of beverages in retail establishments.
The reform will abolish the accumulation of rebates (bonuses) with alcohol purchases using loyalty cards or bonus programmes. The provision applies to alcoholic beverages purchased both abroad and on ships. The same practice is already in place for tobacco products.
The key changes affecting PAM’s sectors, especially from the employee perspective, have been summarised in a PAM wiki article. Read more here!