Charged with drunk driving? Can your employer fire you? – Employment and HR


Australia: Charged with drunk driving? Can your employer fire you?

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The short answer is that it depends. If you are convicted of a high-profile PCA (or other criminal offenses), sometimes an employer can legally terminate your employment. In others, they cannot.

On July 1, 2021, a recent court case addressed this issue. A longtime Sydney Trains employee has been charged with high-end PCA. He was driving his vehicle over more than four times the legal limit. Ultimately, the Fair Work Commission concluded that the termination of his employment was not justified. He was reinstated in his post.

Some of the factors taken into account by the Commission were as follows:

  • whether the offense was work-related
  • if policies have been violated
  • whether there is a direct role between his employment and the offense
  • whether the criminal conduct involves driving outside of working hours
  • the nature of the applicant’s job
  • whether a subsequent loss of license would mean that he could no longer meet the inherent requirements of the job (such as driving a taxi)
  • any potential damage to the employer’s reputation
  • His behavior in the investigation
  • His seniority and any previous discipline or other issues.

The above list is not exhaustive. If you are charged with a drinking and driving offense (or other criminal offenses), it is best to get legal advice early. At Kells, our employment lawyers are able to provide you with the right advice and the best outcome if you find yourself in this situation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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