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Safety is paramount

Safety is paramount

Business NZ says the Employment Court's decision allowing Air NZ to randomly drug test employees in safety-sensitive areas is sensible - no-one would want to fly on an aircraft compromised by incompetence.

The case has highlighted two key issues:

First, that workplace drug testing in the interests of safety is already widespread. In this regard, the judgment noted that the engineers union's evidence did "not accurately reflect the current extent of such practices in safety sensitive enterprises".

And second, that resources to guide employers already exist. The judgment noted that Business NZ's guide 'Drug Testing in the Workplace' "impresses us as prescient, balanced and sound".

Business NZ Chief Executive Simon Carlaw says it is important that the issue not become politicised or used as a platform for knee-jerk regulation.

"While the Court has deemed it unsatisfactory that there is no legislation regulating drug testing, there remains the potential for any such regulation to be misused as an industrial weapon. There is no overwhelming case to go further than to allow for the voluntary adoption of regimes negotiated between employers and employees.

"Workplace drug testing is extremely widely used all around the world, for very good reasons. This court case was an unrealistic attempt to prevent its reasonable use here. That attempt has failed and it is important that prescriptive regulation not now be sponsored on the basis of this attempt.

"Safety is paramount and must not be subject to industrial agendas or to the regulatory 'one size fits all'."

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