Zero Tolerance for alcohol at the workplace during the holiday period

As we approach the Christmas Season we post a warning once again that the zero tolerance for alcohol at the workplace has not been relaxed just because of 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 workplace 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 if individual staff members are treated differently this could amount to an unfair labour practice.

It is suggested that should employers find it necessary to become intoxicated during the Christmas celebrations that then permits everyone to be excused from further work that day and that transport is 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 at cape labour encountered a few years back when 2 individuals had had too much to drink at the Christmas celebrations and a fight ensued between them. This fight led to the death of one of the employees. This situation could have been avoided.


For more information on labour law advice or services. Please feel free to contact us at Cape Labour Consultants and we will gladly assist you. Cape Labour & Industrial Consultants is a Cape Town-based providing Labour Law (Industrial Relations) and advice to employers and employees across all market segments and industries since 1987.

For more information or to Contact Cape Labour. You can find all of our relevant details here.

W.Tel no.: 021-423-3959