I am employed by a very mean company as an accounts clerk. During lunch, which is my very own time, I went to a restaurant and had a couple of beers so that I could continue working even more effectively. The beers did not make me intoxicated and I timely went back to work only to be accused by my boss of having had alcohol whilst at work. I have now been subjected to a disciplinary process and was dismissed from employment the same afternoon. Is it an offence to drink alcohol during lunch break? Is this decision of the employer fair? Please don’t disappoint me with an answer that sides with the employer.
We are unable to comment on the ‘meanness’ or not of your employer. With respect, your statement that you had beers to be able to work more effectively is also hard to understand. And our response will certainly disappoint you as it is based on the law and not taking any sides.
Regulation 13(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health (General Administrative) Rules, 2015 prohibits employees from consuming intoxicating liquor whilst on duty. It doesn’t matter that the employee is not drunk or unable to work or not. It is totally prohibited to drink intoxicating liquor like beer during working hours if the employee is still on duty. Under the Regulations, the employer is not allowed even to allow an employee who appears to be under influence of alcohol to enter or remain at a workplace. Even merely having in possession intoxicating liquor at a workplace is prohibited by the Regulations.
The Employment and Labour Relations (Code of Good Practice) Rules, 2007 lists the offence of consuming alcohol whilst on duty or being under influence of alcohol during working hours as one of the offences which is punishable by termination even if the employee committed such offence only once. It is not a defence that the employee took alcohol during lunch break.