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Can you fire John when he pitches up for work drunk?

by , 04 September 2014
Imagine this: It's Monday morning, you're sitting in your office, checking your emails. You hear some noise in the open-plan office where your employees sit.

You quickly rush to see what's going on.

To your surprise, you find that John, one of your employees is disrupting everyone and you notice that he's drunk. You manage to restore order, but you're now wondering if this form of conduct is a dismissible offence.

Keep reading to find out whether or not you can fire an employee who's drunk at work so you can take action against John and still stay on the right side of the law.


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Here's the answer if you're not sure if you should fire an employee who arrives at work drunk


The answer to the question 'can you fire your employee if he comes to work drunk' is 'Yes' and 'No.'

Let's break it down for you:
 
  • YES, you can fire your employee if he can't reasonably explain why he's drunk. Just remember to follow your disciplinary procedures; and
 
  • NO, you can't fire your employee if he admits to being an alcoholic. In this case, you must try to accommodate him by sending him for counselling and rehabilitation.
 

The CCMA comes to the rescue of employees who are alcoholics 


What you need to know is that even if you have a zero-tolerance policy towards alcohol during working hours, the CCMA has come to the rescue of employees who claim to be alcoholics, says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

So when John comes to work drunk, you must determine whether he's alcohol dependent or simply had too much the night before or was drinking secretly during the course of normal working hours.

You must follow your standard disciplinary procedures in the latter case. If you find he's an alcoholic, take steps to help him. If you don't, you won't be able to defend your dismissal decision in court.

Knowing whether or not you can fire an employee who's drunk at work will help ensure you take action and still stay on the right side of the law.
 
PS: We strongly recommend you check out the "You're Fired!" Your guide to substantive and procedurally fair dismissals. It has all the information you need to make sure your dimissals are legally compliant.

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