Parties bring risk to the workplace
As Christmas approaches and the year winds to a close, most people like to socialise, relax and take stock of the year, and often the boss will put on a few beers for the team to say thank you. Also it is a time of year where employees have quite a few social functions of their own in addition to any work related functions and so are often keen to finish milking and head off with friends.
Usually people have a good time and behave then that is great, however the partying can cause bad behaviour that needs rectifying quickly.
One issue is employees coming to work under the influence of either alcohol or illicit substances or both. This creates safety issues, work output issues, behaviour issues – anything from attendance to other disruptions.
To protect yourself, make sure your business policies, usually found in your farm handbook and your employment agreement, have clauses making it a serious misconduct for an employee to attend work in a state where they are suspected of being unfit for work.
If you have staff turn up and you strongly suspect they are ‘‘ under the weather’’ from something, you may be tempted to just send them home. You can make this leave without pay, but you would also want some sort of formal follow up, and from this you must keep good written records documenting why the employee was sent home and everything that then follows.
The more formal approach, and one you could rely on later if needed, would be to request that they accompany you to the doctors (at your cost) for a blood test, or you could have a qualified person come on farm to conduct random drug and alcohol testing.
As an employer you are entitled to do this. Note here that safety concerns and protecting employees and staff from accidents enable employers to act on these concerns, but we do strongly recommend that your work place should have a robust drugs and alcohol policy as well.
If the employee refuses to accompany you for these tests in work time and at your cost, then as an employer you are able to rely on the assumption that they have something to hide and may proceed with formal action in terms of your policies and employment agreements.
Most people will not be a problem and the chance to relax together will be welcome and fun. But if you also plan for the unwanted incident, then hopefully that won’t happen either.