It is crucial to follow company policy to maintain a safe and healthy work environment and avoid misconduct charges that can result in the loss of employment.
In a recent case, a manager of an engineering and construction company and his team were finishing a major project. The manager suggested to the company’s CEO that he take the team out for lunch to celebrate. The CEO agreed to the lunch but specified a no-alcohol policy due to company rules and the dangers involved with driving company cars back to the factory. Nevertheless, some employees consumed alcohol, including the manager himself.
The CEO eventually discovered that alcohol had been consumed at the lunch and terminated the manager’s employment for serious misconduct.
The manager sued the company for unfair dismissal. The manager argued that he had reminded his crew not to consume alcohol however some employees already ordered alcohol before he arrived at the venue, or simply disobeyed these instructions. Furthermore, the manager argued that although he consumed one drink himself, this had not occurred on paid time as he had finished work for the day.
However, the Court accepted that the manager was instructed on multiple occasions not to allow alcohol during the lunch. The Court found that the manager had failed to inform his team not to drink and had in fact instructed his team to be discreet about having the drinks. The Court also decided that the manager failed to inform the team that their consumption of alcohol went against company policy as their working day had not ended. Therefore, the company had a valid reason to dismiss the manager as he failed to follow company policy and management's instructions.
This case highlights that when it comes to providing a healthy and safe work environment for employees, the employer can take swift action to dismiss if it is proportionate to the potential consequences of the misconduct.