The Fair Work Commission has upheld the dismissal of a worker for a failed drug test upon returning from a trip to Bali, says a report from OHSAlert.
Worker who failed drug test knew he was unfit for work
In his ruling, Commissioner Julius Roe said North West Crewing Pty Ltd had every right to terminate and not just give the employee a warning, because the worker, who works as a deckhand for the company, knowingly showed up for work with methylamphetamine still in his system.
The worker, who was tested four days after attending a party in Bali in July 2015, was found to have 10 times the cut-off limit for levels of methylamphetamine in his urine.
In his unfair dismissal claim, the worker argued that he didn’t knowingly ingest methylamphetamine at the Bali party. He also argued that he should have been given a first and final warning instead of termination, since it was his first violation of his employer’s fitness for work policy.
The employer, however, argued that the worker’s sacking is fair since he knew he was not fully fit for work, and is fully aware of his employer’s drug and alcohol and fitness for work policies.
While Commissioner Roe acknowledged that the employer’s policy states that a first positive test should result in a warning and not termination, there is still a valid reason to sack the employee. He said that in his show cause meeting, the sacked worker admitted to taking extra prescription tablets when socialising. This, in the words of Commissioner Roe, “raises concerns as to fitness for work given that the prescription medicine is also taken whilst at work”.
Commissioner Roe concluded that the worker “would either have known that he took [methylamphetamine] or that he had been given the drug without his knowledge”. He added that the employee “would have been significantly affected at the time of taking the drug given the level of methylamphetamine required to sustain a high concentration in his urine four days later”.
More workplace health and safety news on OHSAlert.
The importance of a drug and alcohol policy
This stresses how important it is for any employer to have in place a proper policy framework. With a clear-cut drug and alcohol policy in the workplace, employers can dismiss an employee for drug abuse and be able to defend it in court, should the sacked worker file a complaint. If you’re an employer and you still haven’t established a drug and alcohol policy, we can help you develop the proper policy framework that you need.