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Scott Cullen

Govia Thameslink Railway

Customer Service Coach

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Question for External Trainers


We are having a discussion in the office about the use of external trainers and some of our policies.

Picture the scene:

You are an external trainer who has been asked to come in and deliver some of our in house programmes. During which we are putting you up overnight in a hotel giving you food and drink allowance.

The Industry and company have a strong Drugs and Alcohol policy.

Would it be reasonable to expect that you would also abide this rule and not drink excessively overnight before delivering the second day of a programme?

Or should the company need to clearly set out their expectations about behaviour while you are working for them and should this be set out in the contract/agreement?

All thoughts welcome

10 Responses

  1. Question for External Trainers

    Not only should suppliers/external trainers comply with this requirement, but there is never should not be any "excessive" behaviour.


  2. External trainers

    Hi Scott

    Put it in writing in your terms and conditions.  I have worked both sides of the fence and the expectation as a provider or client is that the externals to abide by your policy.   However from experience this is not always the case.

    I would also be explicit about other aspects of reasonable behaviour/expenses as sometimes the claims have to be seen to be believed – e.g. Adult movies, £50 taxi bill for a takeway pizza (when the hotel had 24 hour room service but the consultant did not fancy anything on the menu so sent out for Pizza), laundry bills whilst working one night away etc. But let’s be honest the reason people claim it is because companies pay without challenging.

    Putting expectations into a clear agreement upfront makes life a lot easier for all parties.



  3. Question for external Trainers

     I have to fully agree with previous comments. 

    As an external trainer and supplier of external trainers, we make sure that we fully respect the client wishes, display intregrity and professionalism at ALL times…not just when in the classroom.

    This has seen us in the past only drinking a certain brand of beer, or certain type of cola, and even making sure we don’t wear a certain colour that was a competitors brand colour!

    External consultants should be partners to the organisation…as a result be compliant with expectations no matter what.

    It may help to spell this to new clients, via a contract or agreement…but in my experience just verbally making them aware of the culture and expectations is sufficient.



  4. External trainers

    Colleagues are quite right-service delivery agreements with protocols are critical. From our perspective we give advice to both sides of a training contract about the need to build in equality/diversity protocols,inter alia the Equality Act and public procurement clauses. There are also issues of vicarious liability linked to the same statute if all reasonable,practical and proportionate steps are not taken by the client before people come on their premieses.Currently giving free advice to an institution who got a building firm on site -read between the lines(lol).Details in confidence if you need them.

    Happy to send you a range of issues we provide as a checklist. Sometimes though, it is not the trainer/client relationship that needs this reinforcement but some cohorts of trainees!


    QED Training

  5. never mind the policy, what about the professionalism?

    I know that I’m getting on a bit, but even when I was capable of drinking excessively and then going to work the next day, I wouldn’t have done it!

    Professional standards of integrity should be upheld regardless of the letter of the law (though we all know many very public examples where they aren’t)…..yes, by all means put them into SLAs to cover the legalities but isn’t it sad that the topic actually even comes up (and no, I’m not criticising Scott and his cooleagues; their conversation was probably prompted by something)

    Rus Slater

  6. Trust professionalism, use pragmatism

    I’ve been both a contract trainer and an employer of contract trainers and most of the freelancers I’ve worked with have displayed the professionalism I expected of them. On the assumption, however, that there’s always one, I would certainly advise writing a requirement to observe the company’s alcohol and drugs policy into the contract – as long as the trainer knows that your full-time staff are also signed up to it and that there is no question of special conditions being imposed on the trainer, as that could be taken as an affront. Most freelancers who wouldn’t dream of drinking to excess before a day’s work (the large majority) wouldn’t object to such a clause under such circumstances. I’d also make sure any behavioural clauses were fair and reasonable – while it’s fine to ask a trainer to observe a "moderate drinking, no drugs" policy, they might take it as a slur on their professionalism (or adulthood) if they were told they couldn’t have a glass of wine with dinner if they wanted one.




  7. Thanks


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with this, some very interesting points raised, which I have shared.

  8. Moderation is key

    I agree with Alan.

    When working away from home I don’t think it is unreasonable to have a meal and a glass of wine (or pint of beer for the gents) with it. Choosing to spend the night propping up the bar (and expecting the client to pay) is another matter entirely. I’ve never done it, and never have more than 2 drinks (the second only ever occurs if the client is with me and actively encourages it).

    We need to treat each other as adults and to specify an allowance to cover food and drink (which includes a maximum of 1 or two alcoholic drinks) can be a good thing to outline expectayions and give some guidance. I have on some occaisions just selected sandwiches because I wasn’t sure what would be authorised – an allowance helps us to make sensible choices.

  9. Professionalism and credibility

    Hi all

    And not forgetting profiessional liability.

    I’m with Rus and others on the professionalism to the extent that it should not need to be explicit within an engagement or contract. Surely this is basic respectful, ethical behaviour of a professional?

    Our own ‘Standard’ for learning and development practitioners includes three components that would relate to this.

    The Learning and Development Practitioner acts in a fitting manner in all aspects of personal, operational and commercial activities by:
    Understanding and applying a code of behaviour that encourages respect.
    Actively reviewing and regulating their personal impact in relationships with others.
    Preparing for eventualities that impact on dealings with others.

    That’s not to say that a contracting company should not make explicit how it expects its suppliers to act, though I would expect that to be agreed prior to a signing of contracts.

    Hope this helps.

    Peter Mayes
    Founder of TrainerBase
    If here was once there, where is there now?

Author Profile Picture
Scott Cullen

Customer Service Coach

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