Process beats substance

The Herald reports:

A small business has been ordered to pay an employee $12,000 – including $6000 compensation for distress – after he was sacked for supplying cannabis to a workmate. …

The ERA ruled Saxons had not given Mr Wilkinson notice of the allegation and its likely consequences, or the opportunity to seek support, advice and representation.

It also criticised Saxons for not giving notes from the meetings to Mr Wilkinson’s lawyer, and for its view that Mr Wilkinson had sold drugs in the workplace.

Evidence had shown the transaction between Mr Wilkinson and the other worker took place outside work hours, away from Saxons’ premises.

Saxons had no policy on employees’ use of illegal drugs outside work and – although not deliberately – it had unjustifiably dismissed Mr Wilkinson.

So you discover that one employee has been selling drugs to other employees, but as you don’t have a written policy against it, it is okay so long as done outside the workplace.

Expecting small business owners to be able to have employment policies that cover every contingency such as drug dealing outside work is impractical, and why small business owners often lose. They can’t afford to have expensive in house lawyers to advise them on every aspect on employment practices.

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