The Employment Relations Authority recently found that the dismissal of an employee who admitted to drug use was unjustified.  The employee had offered to take a drug test in support of other employees.  She knew that she was likely to fail for recent, albeit uncharacteristic, cannabis use.  The employer ultimately fired her.  The ERA didn’t agree with this course of action.

There were two key sticking points for the ERA.  First, the employer had treated this employee differently to other employees who had tested positive for drugs.  A rehabilitation programme was offered to some, but not this employee.

The second point was that the employer had taken into account previous disciplinary matters when it was not entitled to.  The employee had been through a disciplinary process in the past; however no warning or other disciplinary action was recorded.  Instead it had been agreed that the employee would be “given a clean slate” and any new disciplinary matter would be considered afresh.  This agreement required the employer to commence the entire disciplinary process anew.

There are two key points to take from this case for employers:

  1. Ensure that you are consistent. Hold all employees to the same standards.
  2. If you have been through a disciplinary process which culminates in any sort of warning, record it.  Record it on the employee’s file and give them a copy.

If you are subject to, or wish to initiate any sort of disciplinary process; or if you would like some more information on the topic, give us a call on (04) 4736850 for a free initial chat.