Alcohol and drugs at work - a dismissible offence?
It is important that as an employer, you are clear as to what your obligations are if an employee attends for work under the influence of intoxicants. A recent case, in which in an employee was unsuccessful in their unfair dismissal claim serves as a useful guide for employers in how this matter should be handled...
It is important that as an employer, you are clear as to what your obligations are if an employee attends for work under the influence of intoxicants. A recent case, in which in an employee was unsuccessful in their unfair dismissal claim serves as a useful guide for employers in how this matter should be handled.
In the case, A Complainant v A Meat Processing Plant, an employee failed a random drugs test and was subsequently dismissed by his employer. In rejecting the unfair dismissal claim, the Adjudication Officer took the below factors into consideration:
- The employer had conducted a thorough investigation in line with its own disciplinary procedures. The employee was suspended on pay pending investigation, he was afforded the right of representation at all stages and he was given the opportunity to appeal the decision.
Drugs and alcohol policy
- The company had a clear drugs and alcohol policy in place which gave the employer the right to randomly test employees and also to refer the matter to the disciplinary procedure if an employee were to fail this test. The claimant in this case had signed this policy.
- The employer was also able to show that as part of the induction process employees were made aware of the company’s zero tolerance approach to intoxicants due to the nature of the work activities.
- The Adjudication Officer determined that the employer had substantive grounds to dismiss the employee and that taking the circumstances into account that the penalty of dismissal was proportionate. The Adjudication Officer found that to not dismiss the claimant would have put him and his colleagues' safety at risk due to the nature of the work environment and reverse the effect of the “zero” tolerance policy.
- It should also be taken into account that the Court acknowledged in another recent case that generally speaking when dealing with an employee who has an alcohol/drug dependency problem that employers should give such employees an opportunity to seek professional treatment before considering dismissal.
To conclude, from the above case it is clear that while in some circumstances it may be reasonable to dismiss an employee who attends for work under the influence of alcohol or drugs or who fails an intoxicants test - employers still need to adhere to their workplace policies and avoid acting hastily. In addition, each case should be assessed on its own particular set of facts to decide what sanction is appropriate in the circumstances. Factors such as risk to safety, the level of responsibility, if the employee has contact with the public should be taken into account in deciding whether or not the penalty of dismissal is a reasonable and proportionate response in the situation.
For further information on the disciplinary process, you can consult the SFA guideline or contact Ciara McGuone on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 605 1668.
Accelerate management development programme
Spotlight on the Accelerate management development programme, a training and mentoring programme for owner-managers looking to develop and grow their business. This article provides information on the programme and advice on how to apply...
There are over 80 different government supports available to small businesses but many of them are not well known or understood. Each week in the SFA e-zine, we will profile a different support that could improve your business, giving you information and advice.
Accelerate Management Development Programme
6-9 month part-time management development programme for the owner-managers of small businesses.
The programme is aimed at those who have been in business for at least 18 months and will help them to:
- Effectively address their business challenges
- Develop and grow their business
Each business is allocated a mentor as part of the programme.
The programme will cover the following modules:
- Why am I in business? (two workshops)
- Being the boss
- Finding and keeping customers
- How can my business do better
- Managing the money
- Selling for profit
The aim of the Accelerate programme is to provide the owner-manager with the management, leadership, business skills and knowledge to achieve sustainability and grow their business.
Management capacity is a clear weakness in Irish small firms. International studies have shown that Ireland has a long tail of poorly performing firms, which was not seen in other countries. Improved management skills can improve sales growth, market share growth, lead to higher productivity and, ultimately, improve the survival rate of small firms.
The scheme is run by the Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs). For more information and to find your nearest LEO, visit the LEO website. The specific website of your nearest LEO will have details of the starting date for the next course, the application process and any costs involved.
If you are interested in applying, don’t forget:
- The programme comprises of seven workshops and six mentor consultations.
- Most modules include an opportunity to exchange ideas with peers. Implementation progress will be reviewed by the participant and their peers on the programme.
- More information is available here.
SFA Webinar - Government Supports
SFA Acting Director, Linda Barry will deliver a webinar on 26 July from 2:15pm - 2:45pm on 'The what, where and how of grants, loans, tax savings and other government supports.' Register online now for the webinar.
Connect with the SFA on social media
The SFA has significant reach through social media with all those involved or interested in issues affecting small firms. By connecting with us, you and your company can gain visibility and interact with those in the SFA digital network...
InterTradeIreland's search for Brexit advisors
The SFA has significant reach through social media with all those involved or interested in issues affecting small firms. By connecting with us, you and your company can gain visibility and interact with those in the SFA digital network.
Follow us on Twitter @SFA_Irl, interact with us by using our hashtags, mentioning SFA in your tweets and retweeting and favouriting our content and we’ll try to do the same for you.
On LinkedIn, follow the Small Firms Association or connect with any of the SFA staff.
Like our page on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
If you’re a company or individual that could help other businesses navigate their way through Brexit, then you should consider joining InterTradeIreland’s panel of professional advisers...
National and EU initiatives on plastics and waste may affect many small businesses
If you’re a company or individual that could help other businesses navigate their way through Brexit, then you should consider joining InterTradeIreland’s panel of professional advisers.
InterTradeIreland is offering funding up to €2,000 to help SMEs secure advice on issues such as movement of labour, goods, services and currency management.
InterTradeIreland are currently seeking to expand and strengthen the panel of approved professionals able to undertake consultancy as part of the scheme. The following areas of expertise are among the areas being sought: legal; tax; customs; procurement; international trade agreements; and cross-border labour mobility.
To become an approved adviser able to deliver expert help to SMEs on Brexit related issues then please visit InterTradeIreland's website, fill out and return the application form.
The Green Party has launched a Waste Reduction Bill which aims to ban non-compostable disposable tableware and introduce a deposit and return scheme for drinks containers. At the same time, the EU is developing a Strategy on Plastics as part of the EU Circular Economy package. This article provides updates on both initiatives and provides an opportunity for members to input...
Members may be aware of the Green Party’s Waste Reduction Bill, which was launched by Eamon Ryan on 15 June and has received some media attention.
The two principal aims of the Bill are:
1. Ban non-compostable disposable tableware (single use plastic cutlery, cups, straws etc.) from 1 January 2020.
Who could this affect?
All plastic cutlery in pre-prepared foods; straws supplied with beverage containers; manufacturers and distributors of plastic cups, containers, single use coffee cups and cutlery; food outlets/retailers that supply disposable cutlery for free as well as coffee shops/ retailers/ petrol stations etc. that sell take away beverages.
2. Introduce a deposit and return scheme for sealed containers in which beverages are sold by 1 July 2019.
Who could this affect?
The Green Party have left it to the Minister to decide what is to be included but it most likely would be all cold beverage plastic and glass containers for soft drinks and alcohol but may include milk containers and metal beverage cans.
The Labour Party has indicated that it will support the Bill.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD, has, however, rejected the proposed deposit and return scheme, saying on Morning Ireland: “… we have very high recycling rates in relation to bottles and plastic bottles in this country, somewhere up over 80%. In a country where you don’t have very high recycling rates a proposal, such as the Green Party’s proposal would and should be considered. But we’ve looked at this, there’s a report on our website that details our reasoning why that, at this point in time, the cost involved would outweigh the benefit in relation to it. And it makes far more sense to invest in trying to deal the residual 20% than setting up a completely new regime, to collect bottles and plastic that are already being collected.”
These developments coincide with related initiatives at EU level. As part of the EU Circular Economy Package, the Commission are developing a Strategy on Plastics (see roadmap here). This will concern any member who makes plastic, makes a product that contains plastic or in the case of food/ drink/ health and beauty products etc. plastic is used as the packaging for the product. The Commission will launch a Strategy on Plastics in Q4 this year.
Opportunity to input
The SFA is working with colleagues in Ibec and Green Business to ensure that the realities facing businesses are a central part of the debates on these issues.
Any members that would be impacted are invited to contact Linda Barry, SFA Acting Director, on 01 6051626 or email@example.com to share their perspective or indicate that they would like to be kept informed as the national and EU debates evolve.
SFA Webinar - Government supports for small firms
SFA Acting Director, Linda Barry will deliver a webinar on 26 July from 2:15pm - 2:45pm on 'The what, where and how of grants, loans, tax savings and other government supports.'
Small businesses are missing opportunities to avail of government supports for their business due to lack of information and confusion. Understanding what supports your business qualifies for, where to apply for them and how to avoid some common pitfalls could be the key to sustaining your business or taking it to the next level.
The webinar will cover:
- the "Supporting SMEs online tool"
- the various agencies that assist small business and their criteria
- government policy incentives for starting and growing a business in Ireland
- funding opportunities for small business, including SBCI, Microfinance Ireland and the Credit Review Office
- enterprise space, training & mentoring, advice and promotional opportunities
There will also be a special focus on Brexit supports for small business to help you to assess the risks posed to your business by Brexit and navigate the challenges that have already arisen or may develop under different scenarios.
You will also have the opportunity to ask questions.
Register online now for the webinar.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you can't make this time, you can still register for the session and we'll send you a link to the recording afterwards so you can playback in your own time.
Save the date for the SFA Annual Lunch 2017
- 10 November
- The Mansion House
Be part of the SFA Village at Your Business Live
The SFA Annual Lunch is the highlight of the small business calendar. It is an opportunity to celebrate the contribution that small businesses make to the Irish economy and society.
The SFA Annual Lunch 2017 will take place in the Mansion House in Dublin on Friday, 10 November.
Join over 500 guests, including small business owner-managers, politicians, senior government officials and media for the biggest business lunch of the year for small business. This is also the perfect opportunity to bring together your invited guests, special customers, clients and valued employees to kick off the festive season.
Stay tuned for further details and to purchase your tickets.
- Showcase your business at Ireland's largest SME event - 17- 18 October
As partner of Your Business Live – Ireland's largest SME event, brought to market by The Irish Independent, the SFA plan to create a village whereby our members can come together to showcase their products and services at a preferred rate.
Your Business Live is a two day event taking place in the RDS on 17 & 18 October 2017 where entrepreneurs, owners and managers will gather to network, learn and keep up to date with the latest trends and hottest new products and services for their business. The event will attract in excess of 20,000 executives and decision makers who are looking to meet suppliers, source products and learn from an inspirational line up of speakers across four key stages, (Tech, Grow your business, Finance, Talent & HR).
We are delighted to offer our members the below preferential rate for exhibition space:
Space only can also be arranged. Download a copy of the exhibitor brochure here and the floorplan here. To book your stand please contact Celene Duffy 0872858421 or firstname.lastname@example.org stating that you would like to be part of the SFA Village.
The Irish Business Monitor
Your Business Live is currently undertaking a survey, the Irish Business Monitor – an indicator for businesses in Ireland, in partnership with SFA, Ibec and Enterprise Ireland.
Please answer the survey to ensure that your business is part of this monitor across sectors, industries and regions. Survey respondents have the chance to win an ipad, one years’ subscription to the digital edition of The Irish Independent and a pair of tickets to the Your Business Live event. The survey closes on 17 July, click here to take part in the Irish Business Monitor.
Culture of professional development key to staff engagement
If a business has a culture of ongoing professional development and is willing to invest in their employees, it is more likely that staff will remain engaged and committed to the company. The SFA offers training courses tailored to small businesses. Check out the courses being offered by the SFA from September to December 2017 in the ‘Unlock your potential 2017’ brochure...
Invest in knowledge and interest will soon accrue in terms of chance of survival, business performance and, crucially, employee satisfaction. If a business has a culture of ongoing professional development and is willing to invest in their employees, it is more likely that staff will remain engaged and committed to the company for the long term.
In 2017, the SFA is focusing our course offering on the areas that will most benefit a small business. No matter what stage of development your business is at, these courses are designed to address your needs. Based on your feedback, the courses are short and are offered at very reasonable rates.
Avail of the training opportunities presented in the SFA ‘Unlock your potential 2017’ brochure to bolster your competitiveness and equip your business for the future.
Next available courses:
- Foundations in Management, two-day course, 7-8 September, Dublin, €370 for SFA members
- Project Management, one-day course, 15 September, Dublin, €190 for SFA members
To book your place, visit www.sfa.ie/events