Executive validly dismissed for repeated driving offences

Executive validly dismissed for repeated driving offences

The Fair Work Commission has upheld the termination of an executive employee who repeatedly breached speeding limits while driving a company vehicle and ignored repeated warnings as to the consequences of her actions.

The executive commenced employment with Coca-Cola Euro Pacific Partners (CCEPP) on 23 September 2019 in the position of Business Development Executive. In her role, she was entitled to the use of a fully maintained motor vehicle for both business purposes and private use. The role required her to visit 15-20 customers per day based across the western suburbs of Melbourne and throughout regional Victoria, involving considerable driving.

On 16 November 2020, CCEPP’s National Safety Manager emailed all staff advising them that drivers’ speed would be monitored and that there would be a ‘settling in’ period until 27 December 2021. On 12 February 2021, the company’s CEO released a communication to all staff entitled “Drawing a line in the sand – there is no such thing as staff speeding”. Employees were also advised that excessive speed or repeated breaches may lead to an investigation and a disciplinary process.

Monitoring of CCEPP vehicles occurred through the installation of a device provided by LBM Fleet Services (LBM), referred to as ‘LogbookMe’. Under the system, if a vehicle exceeds the prescribed speeding limit, it is referred to as a ‘speeding event’.

The company identified 62 speeding events by the executive between 21 February 2020 and 7 November 2021. Although there were variations in the excessive speeds recorded, a significant number included speeds classified as ‘Mid-Range Events’, being 11km and up to 20km in excess of the relevant limit.

Importantly, there were 13 speeding events identified in the period after the issuing of the ‘line in the sand’ communication in February 2021.

On 12 February 2021, the executive was issued a written warning regarding her driving. Further similar warnings were issued on 26 March, 8 June and 7 July 2021.

Following a meeting with her manager to discuss her speeding record on 25 March 2021, she was caught by Victorian police on her way home and issued an infringement notice for speeding.

On 13 September 2021, the executive received a Counselling Letter in relation to a motor vehicle accident she was involved in on 5 August 2021.

Following a Show cause process, a Termination Letter was sent to the employee on 13 January 2021 with five weeks’ pay in lieu.

In his assessment, Deputy President Ian Masson did not accept the executive’s claims that the recording system was inaccurate, that she had not received adequate driver training, or that medication may have contributed to her poor driving.

As he noted,

“…I do not accept that the Applicant was neither trained in nor unaware of the process for challenging a speeding event …I am satisfied that the Applicant was not impaired such that she was unable to read speed limit signs or control the vehicle speed on 1 November 2021 … the Applicant was on notice regarded her speeding following the Fourth Warning that made clear that her employment would be at risk if a further speeding event occurred”.

The application was dismissed.

SM v Coca Cola Euro Pacific Partners [2022] FWC 1286 (26 May 2022)

For queries about policies and procedures, employee misconduct, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 925 529 or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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