The recent case of Vai v Aldi Stores is a warning to employees that after-hours misbehaviour can lead to termination of employment.
In this case, Vai threw a glass of beer over the heads of colleagues at a staff Christmas party. This incident occurred after the employee had been counselled by managers to settle down or leave.
ALDI was able to demonstrate that the termination was reasonable and in line with its policies on workplace behaviour because it had taken steps to show that it was maintaining its code of conduct, such as through the limited service of alcohol, and the hiring of security guards at the Christmas function. This was deemed acceptable even though ALDI did not communicate to staff prior to the event that they had to abide by the code of conduct. The Commission was also not convinced that the employee should be able to avoid taking responsibility for his actions, which is what he was seeking to do by seeking to set the termination aside. With this in mind the employee’s termination was upheld.
This case is a win for ALDI and employers who ensure that they put in place measures to ensure staff comply with their organisation’s code of conduct. It also a win for employers because it reminds employees of the need to ensure that they maintain a safe workplace – even out of hours, and especially in relation to their behaviour towards fellow employees.
What can employers do to avoid a termination dispute?
As an employer you should remember to do the following:
- Explain your alcohol policy to staff prior to an event where alcohol is served.
- Have limited alcohol service.
- Ensure staff know the consequences of misbehaviour at a work function.
- Ensure that a sufficient process is undertaken when disciplining staff.
If you have concerns about how to manage staff events effectively, you should contact Adam Foster on (03) 9629 9629 or on firstname.lastname@example.org.