Worker liable for own drunken behaviour

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Worker liable for own drunken behaviour

03/05/2016

In Perth, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) found that drunk employees should be held accountable for their own misbehaviour at work functions, even where the employer didn't take the required steps to provide responsible service of alcohol.

The FWC ruled a worker who pushed a co-worker into a pool and got into a fist-fight with his manager at a work Christmas function was fairly sacked. The worker tried to argue the employer did not control the amount of alcohol individuals consumed which led to him being drunk.

Commissioner Williams said that while in some cases an employer "that provides alcohol at a work function and takes no steps to ensure it is consumed responsibly may be culpable for events attributable to the consumption of alcohol, such as a drunken employee being injured falling down stairs, employees who drink will also be held responsible for their own actions".

Individuals will be held accountable if they choose to behaviour poorly – the moment the worker attacked another worker the company was no longer liable for his actions as that was his choice. "The fact that someone has been drinking when they behave badly may in part explain their actions but it should not be accepted as an excuse for that misbehaviour," Commissioner Bruce Williams said.

Even though the company has not been liable for this man’s actions this case still highlights the importance of responsible service of alcohol to prevent unintentional injury e.g. fall down the stairs.

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