Getting the Ducks in a Row

Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace hit the headlines again yesterday when a former Envirowaste worker was awarded over $32,000 without deduction after the company was deemed to have failed to follow their own processes.

The onus in this case was on Envirowaste to show that their dismissal was justified.  Their allegations had been that the former worked attended work under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that a confirmed positive result had been received following a random drug test.  The outcome to their disciplinary investigation process was dismissal.

To justify the dismissal the company needed to evidence that they had complied with their drug and alcohol policy, that their disciplinary process was fair and that the decision to dismiss was substantively justified.

Some of the failings were that the company did not further investigate the employee’s explanations following the first disciplinary meeting, that they suspended without pay which was not an option in the policy at the time of the suspension and that they had not reviewed the rehabilitation provisions to see if this was an option before finalising their decisions.   

The authority member concluded as an outcome that there had been unjustified actions and procedural failings by the company.  Compensation was awarded to the former employee without deduction which means that there was no deduction made for the employees actions that contributed to the situation.

The key message in this case is the importance of having clear procedures and employment agreement provisions to rely on but more importantly that the time is then taken to make sure they are correctly applied when used.

If you would like your employment and/or drug and alcohol procedures reviewed, updated or implemented or if you are considering testing a member of staff for drugs and/or alcohol contact a member of the Grow HR team.