SMRT exec demoted due to drink driving charge

SMRT's COO escapes a dismissal but has been severely disciplined for a personal offence - was it the right decision?

SMRT exec demoted due to drink driving charge

How should HR handle a case of personal misconduct – especially if it takes place outside of the employees’ work hours?

SMRT’s chief operations officer was demoted and forfeited his annual bonus following his second drink driving conviction this year. He was sentenced to two weeks’ jail and a fine of $4,000 for the repeat offence.

Alvin Kek Yoke Boon also faced a pay cut corresponding to the demotion even though the case was considered a “personal misjudgement with no safety impact to operations”.

Even though the offence took place outside of work hours, SMRT’s vice president for corporate communications Margaret Teo told Channel NewsAsia the actions were justified as Kek’s actions would have implications on the public transportation firm’s reputation.

“SMRT takes a serious view of employees’ conduct and actions which adversely affect the company’s interests and reputation, regardless of whether this occurs in the course of work or otherwise,” Teo said.

“He has been counselled and warned that he will be dismissed if there is any further misconduct.”

Kek was arrested about two months ago at Woodlands Checkpoint. In addition to his sentence, he was also disqualified from holding or obtaining all classes of driving licenses for three years after his release from prison.

At the checkpoint, he told an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer that he had entered it by mistake and had no intention of leaving Singapore.

The officer suspected he had been drinking and instructed him to alight the car for a breath test. He failed the test and was subsequently arrested.

During the hearing in June, the court took into consideration his conviction for another drink driving offence in 2004. Kek also had a slew of other driving-related misdemeanours in the past.

Vice president Teo said that Kek was suspended from work following the conviction.

When should a personal misconduct affect an employees’ status at the workplace? Share your thoughts below.


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