WHAT IF you were sure you could smell alcohol on the breath of one of your domestic or household staff one morning?

Well, to a large extent it depends upon the nature of work being undertaken. Of course having a smell of alcohol on one’s breath doesn’t necessarily mean the person has had a drink that day, it could be a leftover from the previous evening. But even that could be a problem if there were unacceptable levels of alcohol in the blood.

So let’s look at some scenarios: If it were a housekeeper, responsible for food preparation and general housekeeping, it would be a personal judgement on the part of the employer if this was considered unacceptable.

However, perhaps that person is responsible for caring for children, or is a carer for an elderly relative, then you may well consider any alcohol while working is a non starter. If it was a chauffeur, of indeed any staff member who may have to drive, then this would be an absolute no no.

These scenarios may well never have crossed your mind, but the time to consider this is before you issue the contract of employment and write in an appropriate clause.

Dismissing someone for smelling of alcohol, if it doesn’t affect their work and, furthermore, that person has not been told this is forbidden, may well result in a case for unfair dismissal against you.

Our advice as always is to take appropriate legal advice before taking ANY action, and to use the services of a professional to enter an appropriate clause into your contract.