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Tea ladies are employed in various work premises to ensure workers are adequately supplied with refreshments during their break times. The role of a tea lady is a predominantly British custom although they still exist in other countries too, such as in South Africa and Malaysia. Tea ladies have become less popular since the early eighties with the advent of vending machines and large-scale contracted catering services. Tea ladies are sometime referred to as hospitality aids.
The primary role of a tea lady is to supply various drinks (but usually tea or coffee) and light snacks (cakes, buns, crisps and chocolate bars) during the allocated break times of workers. Although some companies make provision for courtesy drinks and snacks, tea ladies are usually expected to take money and store it securely until all sales are completed. Tea ladies should be proficient in making hot drinks and will sometimes be expected to make fresh sandwiches too. They usually work within large office environments but sometimes function in smaller organizations too, such as in accountancy or solicitor firms. Tea ladies are responsible for ensuring they have adequate stock of the food and drinks typically favored by the workers of an establishment. They are also expected to be proficient in keeping any food trolleys or food preparation surfaces clean at all times as mentioned on the Institute of Secretarial Studies website.
Tea ladies will be responsible for keeping adequate stocks of cleaning materials and ensuring they are stored safely apart from food and drinks. Tea ladies are expected to be well presented and demonstrate excellent hygiene standards at all times. They should also communicate with staff in a friendly manner. They are required to demonstrate excellent hygiene standards, and are often expected to wear hair nets and plastic gloves whilst preparing food and drinks for consumption. Tea ladies are usually expected to wash up cuts, plates and cutlery in conjunction with their serving duties. (See Reference 1)
Tea ladies are sometimes responsible for general cleaning duties in addition to their catering role as indicated on the Viet Jet Air website. They may be required to dust down tables and windows in empty boardrooms before laying out food and drink for visiting personnel. They will also need to clear away empty plates and cups once a meeting has ended. Conference rooms are usually tightly booked during a working day, so tea ladies need to be excellent time-keepers to ensure they are always well cleaned and that left-over food is hygienically disposed of.