As we approach the Christmas Season we to post a warning once again that the zero tolerance for alcohol at the work place is not relaxed over the holiday period. The problems that arise at this time of the year create incredibly difficult situations when future dismissals are challenged.

We have seen numerous examples of intolerable behaviour arising out of drinking at the work place or whilst celebrating Christmas luncheons. The behaviour has invariably led to disciplinary hearings thereafter and unfortunately the guilty finding at the disciplinary hearing has more often than not terminated the employment relationship.

It is often said that the rules should be relaxed for Management or at least relaxed in circumstances such as the Christmas Season. However, this relaxation will come back to bite the employer when an individual is caught intoxicated whilst doing his/her job. There have been many reported arbitration awards showing that is individual staff members are treated differently this could amount to an unfair labour practice.

It is suggested that should employers find it necessary to have drinking during the Christmas celebrations that everyone is excused from further work that day and that transport be arranged for those that have partaken in alcoholic beverages.

Please take this cautionary note into account as it could avoid enormous hardship such as a case we have a few years back when 2 individuals had had too much to drink at the Christmas celebrations and a fight ensured between them. This fight led to the death of one of the employees. This situation could have been avoided.

Contact Bernard Reisner 021 423 3959 or e-mail