Legislation / Case Study Extracts

Below are recent Case Study extracts which reinforce the importance of correct policies and procedures, education and inductions of your employees into your Drug & Alcohol Management Plan.

(Glancy Vs Workcover, South Australia 2010)

Case Summary:

This was an unfair dismissal case.  The employee involved was alleged to have used cannabis during a meal break in the car park at the work site.  Drug testing was conducted and the employee dismissed.

The commissioner found in favour of the employee who was reinstated.

The commissioner highlighted a number of mistakes in the employer’s policy, procedure and handling of the matter.  These included:

Employer Mistakes:

  • Drug & Alcohol Policy/Procedure inadequate
  • No specific method of testing documented / in place
  • No clear right to test employees under the policy
  • The independent contractor did not exclusively conclude the result of the testing so the results were not impartial from the employer
  • Employee dismissed prior to confirmation of a urine test taken (which was found to be negative)
  • Mixing urine and saliva testing when they test for entirely different things (not compliant with Australian Standards)
  • Relying on a urine test to detect recent exposure to drugs
  • Dismissed on first “positive” (even though not confirmed)

(Perkins Vs Golden Plains Fodder, South Australia 2004)

Case Summary:

This was an unfair dismissal case.  An employee refused to submit to a drug test when directed to by his employer.  He was subsequently dismissed.

The commissioner found in favour of the employee who was reinstated.

The commissioner highlighted a number of mistakes in the employer’s policy, procedure and handling of the matter.  These included:

  • Policy / Procedure inconsistent and unclear
  • Rationale was for “impairment”, rather than recent exposure “fit for work”
  • Compliance extended to the conduct of employee’s private life which was “harsh and unreasonable” (Urine Testing!!)

Commissioner Quotes:

  • Commissioner Dangerfield found that the drug and alcohol policy was “ambiguous” and “internally inconsistent” (because it did not clearly define what type of testing would be conducted) and that;
  • (The Drug & Alcohol Policy) “was not even understood by its authors, who had attempted to elevate it to a purpose it was never able to or intended to achieve”.