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Drawing the Line between Dismissal for Alcoholism (Incapacity) and Dismissal for Drunkenness (Misconduct). Are the Boni Mores Compromised?

Thandekile Phulu


In South Africa employees are protected by various pieces of legislation. Section 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996 provides for a right to fair labour practice. In its preamble the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (hereafter referred to as the LRA) states that the purpose of the Act is to advance economic development, social justice, labour peace and democratisation of the workplace. The LRA also states that one of its objectives is to give effect to and regulate the fundamental rights conferred by section 27 of the Constitution. The Occupational Health and Safety Act as amended by the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act 181 of 1993 provides for the health and safety of persons at work and for the health and safety of persons in connection with the use of plant and machinery. The LRA provides for dismissal for incapacity and dismissals for misconduct. It also differentiates between the two. The LRA provides for both substantive and procedural fairness when dismissing an employee for incapacity and misconduct. This paper will examine the rationale behind differentiating between dismissal for drunkenness and dismissal for alcoholism.


Incapacity; misconduct; drunkenness; alcoholism; alcohol abuse; no fault dismissal; substantive fairness; procedural fairness

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