In the 2018/2019 financial year, a total of 193 732 cases were referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). This is as opposed to the 186 902 cases which were referred to the CCMA in the previous financial year. A good number of these cases are appealed at the Labour Court (LC) and the Labour Appeal Court (LAC). The decisions which were taken in these matters set a precedent. Your workplace policies need to take these rulings into account.

This is because if they don’t – and you get taken to the CCMA – the disgruntled employee can rely on these decisions which set the precedent and cost you hundreds of thousands of rands.

The case of Trower / Everstar Industries (Pty) Ltd – (2020) 29 CCMA 8.11.1 shows a company whose workplace policies were airtight and this let them avoid a costly award against them.

Here’s what happened.

The employee was dismissed after an administered breathalyser test showed that there was alcohol in his bloodstream. His defence was that the test results were either incorrect or were readings of another employee. In addition, he gave evidence that he had taken cough mixture and had a couple of drinks the night before reporting for duty.

The arbitrator found that this was a case of misconduct. The employer had a zero-tolerance policy and had consistently dismissed employees who reported for duty with alcohol in their bloodstreams.

The arbitrator concluded the rule was justified because the workplace was dangerous. In addition, the arbitrator found that employees were free to drink after working hours however they were obliged to ensure that they did not report for work with alcohol in their bloodstreams. The employee had infringed a valid and reasonable rule which would be undermined if he were to be reinstated. His dismissal was ruled to be fair. The application was dismissed.

If the company did not have a zero-tolerance workplace policy about having alcohol in your bloodstream – and had not dismissed other employees for the same offence – they would probably have faced a hefty CCMA Award similar workplace policies need to be put in place.

The Annual Labour Law Updates, which are run by Global Business Solutions, have become known over the years to provide practical solutions to commonly experienced staffing issues. The last event is on 26 November so join Jonathan Goldberg for this not-to-be-missed event and book your tickets today! Follow this link for our booking form.