Private dagga use is legal but you can still be fired for going to work stoned

South Africa

‘Don’t light up a joint too soon, thinking you can’t get fired,’ one legal expert says

A labour advocate warned that the legalisation of private marijuana use does not mean you cannot be fired for showing to work under the use of the narcotic substance.

Advocate Tertius Wessels, legal director of Strata-g Labour Solutions said, “While the private use of cannabis has been legalised, going to work stoned is not a good idea.”

He said arriving at work stoned was the same as doing so drunk or under the influence of any narcotic substance.

“Being under the influence of mind-altering substances at work renders the employee unfit for duty and can be dangerous, especially for those who operate complex machinery or drive vehicles.

“The issue with cannabis is that it can stay in the system for several hours, even days. This is worrying, especially from an occupational health and safety perspective,” Wessels said.

The workplace is not considered a private place. Therefore, employers can take action against employees who are under the influence of cannabis. Other steps taken by employers could include; asking the employee to leave the workplace, disciplinary action or urine, saliva and blood tests to determine the presence of THC in the system.

Employees will need to give consent to the testing. However, if they are caught in a lie about their cannabis consumption, they could be in breach of their employment contract and/or possibly guilty of dishonesty, which could ultimately lead to them being dismissed.”

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