Employers can Subject Workers to Mandatory Drug and Alcohol Testing

The Federal Court has supported an employer’s right to subject employees to mandatory drug and alcohol testing, stating that this will help accomplish workplace health and safety obligations. Drug and alcohol testing will not need to be specifically included in workplace agreements. The decision was welcomed by business groups and owners but criticised by unions.

The judgement ruled against the Construction, Forestry, Mining & Energy Union (CFMEU) which had fought against the testing. CFMEU appealed against a Fair Work Australia decision which said there was nothing in a collective agreement which prevents an engineering contractor from subjecting its workers to random drug and alcohol testing.

Dan Murphy, spokesperson for the CFMEU, indicated that the testing was unjustified and did not accept that construction workers are more prone to drug and alcohol problems than other sections of society.

Business groups, however, welcomed the decision. This included the Australian Industry Group, which said that workplace health and safety was “the highest priority” of responsible employees.

AIG chief executive Innes Wilcox was supportive of the decision, stating that safety policies are aimed at protecting workers and the public, and that it was vital for employers to implement them.

What does this ruling mean for Australian businesses and employees? Employers can now be certain that they are allowed to subject employees to mandatory drug and alcohol testing if it helps to accomplish workplace health and safety obligations.

After the Federal Court’s ruling, we expect more employers, especially those in the mining, construction, and aviation industries to implement drug and alcohol testing policies. If your workplace has not implemented a drug and alcohol policy yet, you should consider doing so now, especially if there are safety risks in your workplace.

You can contact us or read our article on tips on implementing a workplace alcohol and drug testing policy. We distribute a range of quality industrial breathalysers that are ideal for workplace alcohol testing.

For more information on drug testing, visit our drug testing facts & information page, or contact us on 1300 800 200 to speak to an expert.

 

References:

National Affairs http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/industrial-relations/federal-court-upholds-employers-right-to-subject-staff-to-drug-and-alcohol-tests/story-fn59noo3-1226396009885

Smart Company http://www.smartcompany.com.au/industrial-relations/050212-court-gives-business-the-go-ahead-to-drug-and-alcohol-test-staff.html