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Ask Buachaill Your Own Question
Buachaill, Lawyer
Category: Republic of Ireland Law
Satisfied Customers: 10594
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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Last week one of the prof drivers was found drinking by me

Customer Question

Last week one of the prof drivers was found drinking by me when we brought a number of clients with disabilities on a respite break. I confronted him about it but feel weak with the way I dealt with the incident so much so that "does this staff member think I am a walkover". He did not drink for the remainder of the break. Prior to the trip he would have signed a policy which stated "no drinking permitted" so he was aware of his actions.

One of our day service vehicles have been found with minor damage but will cost approx $1200 to repair and our insurance will only pay for an excess of anything over $1500. In these difficult times I now have to try and find the money my tight budget to pay for this damage to be repaired. The same driver has denied that he knows anything about it but he is the one who drives it the most. He also had 2 accidents last year with the same vehicle. I have yet to ask the other 2 drivers about the damage to the bus, however it has been a week now and no one has come forward and admitted damage, however my gut tells me it the driver I found drinking last week. If no one admits liablity, what should I do?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Republic of Ireland Law
Expert:  Buachaill replied 4 years ago.
1. At the risk of stating the obvious, the first thing you need to do is to investigate who was driving the bus when the damage occurred. This will be a simple matter of checking the time logs and questioning each driver as to whether the vehicle was damaged when they drove it. In that way you will no longer have to rely on your "gut" but you will be able to nail down who is responsible. Drinking while driving is a criminal offence, so you should already have given this driver a written warning about his conduct setting out that he will be fired if there is a repeat offence. However, you need to go through the correct procedures if you wish to get rid of this driver as otherwise, he will have a case for unfair dismissal against you.
2. So if you wish to fire him, you need to formally give him a written warning about his conduct last week and to set out in the letter that drinking while driving is a criminal offence and he will be fired if there is a repeat of this behaviour. Normally, two previous written warnings are required before you can lawfully sack and employee. However, where a criminal offence is committed, dismissal can occur subsequently for stated misbehaviour.
3. In relation to the damage, you can immediately give a second written warning to this guy if he committed the damage. However, you should first formally ask him by letter whether he committed the damage and if so, how. In order to successfully fire an employee for cause shown you must give him a right to set out his case. Otherwise, he may have an action for unfair dismissal.
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