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Drinking On Duty
 Drinking On Duty

If an employee returns from a lunch break or attempts to begin a day’s work and appears to be under the influence of alcohol or any other form of intoxication, can you dismiss them? And if so, what are the proper procedures to follow? Although this is not a common problem faced at the work place it is a common question usually asked to all supervisors and managers during a performance evaluation or job interview.

Firstly we must be aware that the legal limit in terms of the road traffic act is 0.05 but what happens if there is an accident on duty despite the employee being under the legal limit?

All employers must have a written Alcohol and Drug Abuse Policy in place. If the policy states, which it should, that there is a zero tolerance then the policy must state clearly what the testing procedure shall be.

But before the testing procedure is conducted the employee is entitled to have a representative to assist him through the disciplinary hearing and process. The employer is also entitled to a representative as a witness.  

The test procedure generally requires the employee to blow into a reliable and properly calibrated breathalyzer. Although first the policy must state that the suspected employee will be required to undergo the breathalyser test.

A written note must be made of the employee’s appearance. In terms of appearance, example, bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, attitude - aggressive or abusive. The employee can also be asked to walk a white line painted on the floor with his arms held out horizontally. Any negative results can be used against the employee as circumstantial evidence which entitles you to reach a logical conclusion.

Although the policy must also state that the breathalyzer will be calibrated in the presence of the employee and his representative to avoid disagreements.

The policy must make reference to the Occupational Health and Safety Act Act 85 of 1993.

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