April 14, 2004
Spotlight is now on all drugs test schemes - union
New Zealand’s largest union says that it will now put all workplace drugs testing regimes under close scrutiny in the wake of a landmark court decision.
A full bench of the Employment Court has ruled that Air New Zealand may not impose random tests for drugs or alcohol across its workforce, but may introduce them in “safety-sensitive areas.”
Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little said that while the court had said the decision applied only to Air New Zealand, the 79-page decision gave a good outline of the principles the court would take into account in considering the legality of any drugs testing regime.
“The court has clearly signalled some principles that it expects employers to adopt,” he said.
“Employers need to be aware that in order to introduce any drugs-testing system there needs to be extensive consultation with the workforce, and decisions on what is right for a particular company or industry will depend on the circumstances.”
The EPMU led the case for six unions with members at Air New Zealand. There will now be further discussion over which workers may be tested.