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How to deal with Alcohol and Work

Posted April 19, 2017

It’s all gravy until one of your team members arrives at work reeking of booze after a big weekend, a long weekend or just a bad afternoon. Along with the risk of sandwich sickies (sick days around public holidays that allow staff an extra long weekend without taking any annual leave), ANZAC Day is notorious for encouraging drinking culture in Australia – and while it is great to celebrate the national pastime, there are liabilities and costs to your business associated that cannot be ignored.


Whether staff are coming off a long-weekend binge or continuing the party from the night before, workplace health and safety is put to the test. Faced with escalated risk, salon-owners best defence begins with a drug and alcohol policy.


“If an employee arrives in an unfit state to work, can I send them home?”

You can send an employee who is unfit to work home and can take disciplinary action after then. Make sure you approach the situation with discretion and let other staff members or clients know that the employee as “unwell”. Any accusations need to be left at the door for the mean time as without a legal drug and alcohol test, you can’t prove anything in court and this could be considered defamation.

Termination of can employee is difficult without significant proof, like a drug or alcohol test. However, if you have observed specific behaviours (such as being rude to customers or endangering other staff members health) that would be grounds for instant dismissal according to your salon’s employment contract, you can proceed with dismissal because the reason and offensive behaviour are connected and your staff member should be aware of this as terms of employment.


The more diplomatically you can attempt to control any such situation regarding employee behaviour, the easier and better it is for you, your business and your team. So act tactfully and carefully to avoid issues down the track.


The best rule of thumb that the team at HABA can offer you for public holidays is to be prepared. Speak to your staff beforehand about what you expect from them, which days are considered public holidays relative to your salon opening requirements and which days the salon will be open during this period. Trust your staff to do the right thing, and be prepared in the instance that something goes wrong. If you’re not certain or if you need some advice on a sticky situation, call our HABA Members Advice Line on (02) 9221 9911



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