LAST ORDERS: Australia's Industrial Relations Commission has upheld the sacking of a supermarket manager who drank two beers over lunch.
Employment lawyers are warning staff against too much celebration this Christmas after the Industrial Relations Commission upheld the sacking of a supermarket manager for having two beers at lunchtime.
The commission ruled Tony Selak had breached the conditions of his employment as the manager of a Safeway store in Melbourne by violating the "zero tolerance" policy on drinking in working hours enforced by Woolworths, which owns Safeway.
Mr Selak, 36, admitted having two glasses of beer over lunch in May, but argued that the policy should not apply to managers, who did not operate equipment or machinery. He said he was drinking only to help create a more relaxed environment in which he could convince a valuable employee, who was thinking of resigning, to stay with the company. But Commissioner Gareth Grainger found Woolworths's decision to sack Mr Selak, who had worked for the company for 18 years, was "not harsh, unjust or unreasonable".
The law firm Fisher Cartwright Berriman said Mr Selak's case had national implications, especially given the looming Christmas season and its traditional festive lunches. Alistair Salmon, a partner with the firm, said: "This decision makes it clear that an employee who breaches an alcohol policy and is sacked then, prima facie, does not have sufficient grounds for unfair dismissal. "Employees need to look at their contractual obligations as they move into the party season, where alcohol consumption greatly increases, notwithstanding some of those obligations might be considered unreasonable."