A sales staff member has arrived late and hung-over. What do I do?

Dear Aunty B,

I own a small retail shop and on the weekends a couple of students work on a casual basis. 

They are all good and reliable employees but last weekend one of them (who is 18) rang in saying she was running late and then turned up clearly hung-over and stinking of alcohol.

Her whole body and even breath smelt and I am afraid she was putting customers off.

How do I handle this?




Dear Boozed,

Sorry, I just had a flashback to the days when Aunty was a Niece and working two part-time jobs to get myself through university – I think you’ve just described my state of mind for the best part of five years!

But look, you’re right. While we’ve all felt a little worse for wear at work from time to time, nobody wants to be served by a hung-over student. You could have sent her home to sleep it off, or given her a breath mint and some perfume, or sent her to work out the back of the shop, but more importantly you need to sit her down and give her a formal warning.

Pull her aside and tell her that it is unacceptable to turn up to work late and clearly worse for wear. Tell her that she has a month to get things back on track and that you will have a conversation in a month to see how she has gone.

Document the conversation in a letter and send it to her. I know this sounds a bit heavy-handed, but you need to get the message through.

If she is the good and reliable employee you say she is then she is likely to be mortified and hopefully it is a one-off incident that she will learn from. But if it happens again you need to get rid of her and having this formal discussion means you are going through that process properly. She would probably need a second warning before you dismissed her though.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

Email your questions, problems and issues to auntyb@smartcompany.com.au right now!


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