Defending the use of a drug and alcohol policy

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A recent decision of Fair Work Australia has highlighted the importance of employers implementing appropriate drug and alcohol policies and testing regimes. In finding that an employee was unfairly dismissed for a breach of such a policy, Fair Work Australia has also reiterated the importance of ensuring procedural fairness when dismissing an employee for such a breach.

What happened?

In the case, the employee, employed as a heavy vehicle driver, logged into his shift smelling of alcohol, acting unsteady and slurring his words. Upon noticing the employee’s obvious impairment, the employer immediately sent the employee home and, later that day, decided to terminate his employment for serious misconduct (although the decision was not communicated to the employee). The decision to terminate the employee’s employment was made without conducting any drug or alcohol testing, and was based on the assumption that the employee was obviously impaired by alcohol.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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