REMOTE DRINKING: NO GO

The Fair Work Commission has upheld the pay sanction imposed on a teacher who drank from a cask of wine in a video meeting.

The incident occurred in Augusts 2021 during a COVID pandemic lockdown when the ACT department of Education teacher were given 5 days to prepare materials for their students ‘remote learning’ classes.

During a one-on-one video meeting with his supervisor the teacher, who was working from home, picked up a cask of wine, lifted it above his head, and drank from it.

Despite the teacher's argument that it wasn't a workplace and the meeting had ended, a subsequent investigation found he breached workplace conduct by drinking alcohol during work hours. His pay was reduced for 12 months.

The teacher appealed, stating he wasn't at a workplace and wasn't influenced by alcohol. However, the department's appeals panel and the Fair Work Commission disagreed, emphasising that even in a home office, workplace safety laws apply, and drinking during work hours violated departmental policies, regardless of supervision duties.

The Commission upheld the pay reduction, affirming that the teacher was at work, subject to work-from-home guidelines during a lockdown, and policy prohibited alcohol consumption during work hours, even if not directly responsible for student supervision.

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