Despite your best efforts as a business owner, you may find employees still bring cheese-based foodstuffs into your workplace.
Although this may be infuriating for you, under the Cheese and Dairy Products at Work Act 1971 it’s a legal right your members of staff maintain.
In this guide, we explore legal loopholes you can exploit. And the company policies you’ll need to introduce to manage the dairy.
The Law on Cheese at Work
The Cheese and Dairy Products at Work Act 1971 states clearly that dairy is legal in workplace environments. Section 335.7 of the 678 page Act indicates:
“Cheese is legal in the working environment. Employers (even ones who cannot stand cheese) must let employees indulge in the likes of cheese and tomato sandwiches, tea with milk in it, and/or Babybel.”
Indeed, in 1977 every final Friday of each working month was named Fromage Friday and employees attending work that day were handed a free slab of brie.
They were allowed to do with the brie as they pleased. As this, unfortunately, led to various depraved sex scandals, Fromage Friday was ended in 1978 and replaced by Cheesy Tuesdays.
This time employees were handed a chock of cheddar. Cheesy Tuesdays were abandoned in 1979 due to several deaths relating to incorrect cheddar ingestion.
In 1994, the Cheese and Dairy Products at Work Act 1971 was accompanied by the Eating Cheese at Work Equality Act 1994. The latter states in section 445.12:
“Irrespective of species, age, gender, or the planet your employees are from, eating cheese at work is suitable for anyone. Do not discriminate when it comes to the consumption of cheese. Dairy is not about discrimination. It is about a tasty meal.”
After the 1994 Act, there resulted an explosion of cheese consumption amongst employees eager to exploit the liberal workplace attitude towards dairy.
Famously, in March 1997, one staff member at an IT company arrived at work and ate himself to death on a deadly cocktail of brie, Babybel, camembert, and gorgonzola.
After this tragedy, the Eating Cheese at Work Equality Act 1994 became the Eating Cheese at Work (Miscellaneous) Equality and Health and Safety Act 1997 to address (and deter) the possibility of other gluttonous demises.
Since 1997, there have only been 12 other reported cheese-based fatalities at work.
However, as an employer you must remain vigilant. It’s your duty of care to protect your employees from death by dairy.
Your Business’ Cheese Policy
Due to the various cheese-based Acts, you must welcome dairy into the office like it’s a long lost uncle returning from the war.
In your policy, which you can include in your company handbook, include a statement along the lines of:
“You may bring as much cheese into the office as you wish, but within reason. Pertaining to such a statement, we define ‘within reason’ as:
a) Adequate dairy produce to sustain an individual for one working day.
b) An amount of cheese that does not block stairwells, fire exits, and/or employee bathrooms.
c) An amount of cheese that does not block essential working environments, such as computer screens and/or engineering equipment. Cheese must not obstruct working tools as they may result in a bone crunching accident.
In 2017, there were 37 workplace injuries due to cheese-based products blocking stairwells in offices. As such, ensure your staff understand correct health and safety procedures.
For example, if an employee brings a cheese tea into work then they mustn’t place this haphazardly on the precipice of a stairwell.
Instead, they should bring it with them to their desk to consume safely, securely, and without endangering anyone’s life.
Similarly, if there’s a Lancashire bomb cheese in work then staff shouldn’t start chucking it about the place for a laugh whilst pretending it’s a real bomb.
This may induce panic amongst your workforce, which could result in a stampede and a loss of productivity for your business.
You should encourage all employees to take part in the annual Running of the Cheese to get all the dairy out of their system.
Employment Laws on Lactose Intolerant Employees
Under the Lactose Intolerance at Work Act 2002, employees who can’t physically consume dairy should be ritually humiliated at least once a month.
Establish a suitable day for this endeavour (such as a Friday afternoon) and command those afflicted to stand in an open area.
You should then get the cheese eating employees to hurl insults at the lactose intolerant individuals, whilst pointing at them and also laughing.
This will help to boost employee morale and bring about the acceptance of cheese into your business.