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How to tackle substance abuse at the workplace: Case law

Earlier this week, I spoke about how – if you want to take action against an employee you suspect of abusing alcohol or drugs – you can legally do this, according to the Labour Relations Act (LRA). I described two cases that deal with this issue and this week, I will talk about five more.

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How to tackle substance abuse at the workplace

Substance abuse by an employee can present you with a complex problem. It's often unclear how the situation should best be dealt with to ensure your solution is fair and effective - and doesn't fall foul of labour laws. When confronting substance abuse, you're faced with obligations under a number of laws. This article focuses on consequences under the Labour Relations Act (LRA) when you want to take action in response to an employee's suspected or known substance abuse, which is causing problems at the workplace.

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Should you allow employees to have legal representation at disciplinary hearings?

Item 4 of the Code of Good Practice: Dismissal - contained in schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) - states that, when an enquiry is held into an employee's alleged misconduct: "The employee should be allowed reasonable time to prepare the response and as well as the assistance of a trade union representative or fellow employee." However, usually employers don't allow external legal representatives to represent employees at disciplinary hearings because of the content of item 4 of the code and disciplinary hearings are seen as internal matters. However, this practice has come into question over recent years.

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Polygraph testing: Worthwhile tool in disciplinary action?

It's important to remember you may require an employee to undergo polygraph testing during, for example, a disciplinary action. However, you may not force or coerce (through occupational detriment or similar) an employee to submit to such test as he has a constitutional right to bodily integrity and privacy. Even if the employee previously agreed to polygraph testing (as part of the terms and conditions of his employment contract), he may still legitimately refuse to take the test.

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Species of misconduct: jungle out there, zoo in here

Misconduct can be best described as employees not adhering to the employer's rules and policies and, as a consequence, risking dismissal. This behaviour is normally deliberate and isn't because of circumstances beyond the employee's control. To discipline – and possibly dismiss - an employee for misconduct, you must prove a number of factors.

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