Apparently one employer may do just that. It has been reported that an employer is introducing new contractual rules making it a disciplinary offence to bring single-use plastic to the workplace. If an employee flouts these rules three times, they could end up being dismissed.
Such rules mean that if an employee buys a pre-packed sandwich or a take-away coffee on their way into work or simply brings a piece of homemade cake wrapped in clingfilm, they could potentially face disciplinary proceedings. Some will say that this is just what we need to help combat the environmental damage caused by single-use plastic. Others will argue that it is a step too far and people should be allowed to decide for themselves, rather than be dictated to by their employer.
The employer argues that the move is justified as its stance on plastic is part of the "mentality of the business" and therefore should be shared by all its employees when they are at work. It remains to be seen whether anyone will actually lose their job and challenge the reasonableness of the employer's actions. Remember that an employee usually needs at least 2 years service to bring an unfair dismissal claim. Employers should also remember that any disciplinary rules need to be clearly set out and a fair disciplinary process must be followed, including the relevant requirements set out in the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
A Sheffield-based company has announced plans to make it a disciplinary offence to bring single-use plastic into the office. Intelligent Hand Dryers will change employee contracts so that if staff receive three warnings and continue to ignore them, they could be sacked. The ban was introduced last month, and includes disposable coffee cups with plastic linings, plastic water bottles and sandwich packets with plastic windows.