New policies are being introduced into many Australian workplaces which enable employees to be tested by their employer for drugs and alcohol. Testing often involves employees being randomly tested for drugs and alcohol in their workplace using breath, saliva and urine-based testing devices. The implementation of drug and alcohol testing policies in retail stores has the potential to impact on SDA members like you. These policies, if introduced in retail stores, may result in you being subject to an unfair, unreasonable and potentially unlawful testing regime in your workplace. If this is happening in your store, the SDA wants to know.
CONCERNED UNION MEMBERS
The SDA has been alerted by members concerned about the impact these new testing regimes may have on them. Following up on our members’ concerns, and worried about the potential implications that these new policies could have for the rights of retail employees, the SDA is keen to hear from any members who may already be aﬀected by drug and alcohol testing regimes.
WHAT THE SDA SAYS ABOUT TESTING RETAIL WORKERS FOR DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
The SDA maintains that it is unreasonable, inappropriate and potentially unlawful to test retail workers for drugs and alcohol. Recent decisions by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) reflect the SDA’s view that testing employees for drugs and alcohol should be confined to workplaces where workers are operating in high-risk, safety critical environments. The performance of construction work and the operation of heavy machinery are roles that can be classified as high-risk or safety critical. Workplace testing for drugs and alcohol is an intrusive procedure that should only be warranted where it is reasonable, appropriate and lawful. Testing should only be considered to minimise risks that impairment, due to drug and alcohol misuse, may pose in a high-risk, safety critical work environment. The SDA recognises that sometimes retail employees may be impaired at work due to misuse of drugs and alcohol, however, there are other ways of managing these incidents. There is no need for heavy-handed, intrusive and invasive testing regimes designed for high-risk work environments to apply to retail stores. Workplace testing for drugs and alcohol is not warranted in a retail environment.
SERIOUS CONCERNS WITH THE DRUG AND ALCOHOL POLICIES IN RETAIL
The SDA has a number of serious concerns in relation to how drugs and alcohol policies may impact on our members:
Drug and alcohol policies have been developed for higher-risk worksites where heavy machinery is in operation, not for employees working in lower-risk retail stores where these high-risk elements are absent. The SDA has not been provided with any evidence of safety issues or incidents in retail stores involving employees aﬀected by drugs and/or alcohol misuse. Employees who are subject to these kinds of policies are often required to disclose private and personal health information, including medication that they have been prescribed by qualified medical practitioners, which is not relevant to their work. Where testing of employees is undertaken, it is often not done appropriately and in line with best practice, that is by an independent, accredited testing agency. Employees’ private information, including non-negative test results, could potentially be held by their employer, without the employee knowing if this information is secure. Drug and alcohol testing policies are often introduced under the guise of promoting employee health, safety and wellbeing, however, they can be still applied by a company in a punitive way, which ultimately may result in an employee losing their job.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
The SDA is very concerned about the potential implications that drug and alcohol testing policies could have for the workplace rights of retail employees. The SDA is keen to hear from members who may already be subject to testing for drugs and alcohol in their workplace.
CONTACT THE SDA
If you are aware of alcohol and drug testing being conducted in your workplace please contact the SDA on 6331 8166.