Drug & alcohol testing reasonable in the circumstances

Wagstaff Piling Pty Ltd; Thiess Pty Ltd v Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union [2011] FWAFB 6892

Despite a collective agreement not expressly providing for drug and alcohol testing the Full Bench of Fair Work Australia has held that could not be read as prohibiting such testing:

[34] We do not consider clause 48 operates to limit drug and alcohol testing, or for that matter, other safety initiatives. Appendix I and the Policy clearly endorse a cooperative and collective approach to the management of drug and alcohol issues but cannot be read as prohibiting mandatory drug and alcohol testing. Indeed testing of this nature was not as common an issue at the time of the inception of the Policy in 1993 as it is now. Other provisions of the Wagstaff agreement recognise the need for continuous change and improvement and the obligations on Wagstaff to advance workplace safety. The risks to employee safety posed by drug and alcohol use have long been recognised by this Tribunal 6 and compulsory drug and alcohol testing is, of itself, not so extraordinary that it could not be argued to be a reasonable employer instruction or that it could be regarded as an extra claim for the purposes of clause 50 of the Wagstaff agreement.


Brisbane Barrister – David Cormack

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