From time to time, some of your employees may decide to cook bivalve molluscs (mussels) in your office environment.
You may find this objectionable (along with activities such as baking bread at work), but what is the law surrounding this issue?
Can you fire someone for cooking mussels in your workplace? We explain all in this informative guide.
What To Do If Staff Want to Cook Bivalve Molluscs At Work
It’s good business practice to line your office walls with posters stating your business’ policy on cooking seafood at work.
Remember, your statements must adhere to the Cooking Mussels at Work Act 1974, which is a piece of legislation detailing your employees’ rights. It states:
“Your employees are free to prepare mussels in the office kitchen area, preferably during lunch breaks so as not to hog the kitchen.
However, as an employer you must be prepared for:
a) The stench of cooking molluscs clogging up the air in your workplace.
b) The possibility an employee may slice themselves with a knife when preparing the mussels, leading to bloody spraying all across the workplace (and much accompanying hysterics).
c) The consumer of the mussels then becoming ill after undercooking them and spending next three weeks off due to illness.
As long as you have a brain surgeon on your premises at all times, then you should allow your employees to cook mussels at will. If you do not have a brain surgeon readily available, consider hiring one.”
Do note, brain surgeons tend to command salaries of £97, 191 per annum.
You must budget for this annual expenditure in the event your entire workforce wants to cook mussels on a regular basis.
However, if it’s (for example) just an apprentice who’s looking to cook mussels, then it’s really not worth forking out for a brain surgeon alongside such an inferior member of staff.
How to Manage the Stench of Cooked Mussels at Work
As with the likes of kippers, mussels can cause a frightful stench aftermath in your workplace. It can induce retching and vomiting from some members of staff.
The smell can also lead to employees complaining about the stink, which means they’re no longer being productive. Which is bad for profits.
Under the Horrible Smells at Work Act 1999, it’s your duty as an employer to attempt to remove stench from your working environment. You can do this by:
- Opening some windows.
- Shooting an employee before they do anything foul smelling.
- Banning mussels at work (although this will breach the Cooking Mussels at Work Act 1974 and could result in your incarceration for breaking the law).
- Lighting many incense sticks (although you must limit this to three incense sticks per hour, due to legislation from the Incense Sticks at Work Act 1969).
- Setting off fire extinguishers to try and mask the stench of cooked mussels.
You must also adhere to the Washing Up After Yourself at Work Act 1984, which stipulates staff must wash used pots and pans after using them at work.
If they don’t, you have the legal right to:
- Demote them on the spot.
- Fire them on the spot.
- Execute them with a rusty samurai sword (on the spot).
- Politely ask them to clean up after themselves.
You should also remember your employees have to pay for the mussels themselves. You’re not providing a charity here, dammit!
Your Company Policy (about mussels at work)
Make it clear in your company handbook what your stance is on employees wanting to cook bivalve molluscs in your office environment.
You may have other employees queuing up for access to the kitchen, eager to cook snails, frog’s legs, or lobster during their break.
As such, you may find a traffic jam forming in your kitchen areas as staff scrabble to steam their particular foodstuff.
Don’t take sides. That could be seen as favouritism and that’s discrimination. Instead, outline in your policy something along the lines of:
“During the half an hour lunch break, employees will find extensive kitchen areas to cook up mussels, snails, frog’s legs, or any other exquisite delicacies.
We appreciate employees want to enjoy their lunch to the maximum and provide several top of the range kitchens throughout the premises. These were stalled to cater to our staff’s gourmet lunch requirements.
Although please remember, employees looking to eat the likes of beans on toast, a sandwich, or a Pot Noodle, can do so in any breakout area.”
Remember, some employees take lunch very seriously and will go to great lengths to boil mussels and other foodstuffs to live a luxurious lifestyle.
Whilst this may sit at odds with other employees, or your desire to work without disruption, you must respect their rights.
Or you can just refuse to hire anyone with fancy tastes.