FWC upholds dismissal of employee with appalling driving history

FWC upholds dismissal of employee with appalling driving history

FWC upholds dismissal of employee with appalling driving history

The Fair Work Commission has rejected an unfair dismissal claim from an employee who consistently exceeded the speed limit while working, despite the ongoing attempts by his employer to curb his driving with counselling, training, and following a clear disciplinary process.

The worker ‘Mr D’ had been employed by Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Australia Pty Ltd (“CCA”) as a Regional Technician since October 2016. The role required him to use a work vehicle to attend to the installation, servicing, quality control, and maintenance of machinery within the southern region of New South Wales.

CCA had undertaken several measures to introduce systems, policies and procedures in an attempt to eliminate speeding and have employees who drive company vehicles adopt safe driving practices. Employees were continually informed that their vehicle speeds would be tracked and that breaches of speed limits would result in disciplinary action, which could lead to termination of employment.

Between March 2021 and December 2022, CCA’s speed monitoring system recorded ten different occasions when Mr D’s vehicle exceeded the prevailing limit by between 6 and 15 kphs.

CCA issued him with an informal caution regarding speeding on 8 September 2021, followed by a first counselling letter on 18 February 2022, a second counselling letter on 29 April 2022, and further letters of allegations regarding speeding on 6 October 2022 and 29 November 2022.

In discussions held with the employee in November 2022, he was advised that further speeding may result in the termination of his employment, and he acknowledged he understood what was being issued to him.

Following two further incidents of speeding in December 2022 and January 2023, he was terminated.

In submissions before Deputy President Gerard Boyce, Mr D claimed that CCA refused to purchase him a GPS navigation system to warn him of road conditions, the speedometer in his vehicle was defective, the monitoring system was inaccurate, and the training and learning modules provided to him were not real-life scenarios, and therefore hard to apply in practice.

In his determination, the Deputy President noted,

“direction for the Applicant to abide by and follow road rules and regulations, including as to maintaining the legal speed limit whilst driving, was a reasonable and lawful direction … the Applicant was well aware of his obligations to abide by and follow road rules and regulations, and was on notice prior to his dismissal that a failure to do so would result in disciplinary action being taken against him (up to and including the termination of his employment).

The Deputy President noted that there was no evidence presented that disclosed

“any systemic or otherwise identifiable problems with the Logbookme speed monitoring system used by the Respondent”.

In dismissing the application, the Deputy President noted,

“The Applicant had an abysmal record of over ten speeding events in less than 20 years prior to his dismissal … Ultimately, the Applicant’s repeated and unsafe misuse of his tool of trade vehicle strikes at the core of the relationship of mutual trust and confidence which is required to sustain an employment relationship”.

THXD v Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Australia Pty Ltd (U2023/1175) 22 August 2023

For queries about vehicle usage, misconduct, workplace behaviour, managing performance, or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 925 529, 0417 622 178 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.

Ref: 389.0923

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