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FWA ruling against urine testing a big win for workers

Aug 15, 2012News

In a big win for workers rights, NSW Government-owned company Endeavour Energy, yesterday lost its appeal to Fair Work Australia to conduct urine drug tests on its employees.

The FWA full bench rejected an appeal by the energy company against an earlier decision that found that the company could only use swab or salvia tests, rather than urine testing to detect drugs on its employees.

The original hearing found that urine testing, which the company argued was needed to manage OH&S obligations, was “unjust and unreasonable”, saying that saliva based tests are the most accurate way of testing whether employees are under the influence of drugs at work.

The presiding judge in the original case, Senior Deputy President Jonathan Hamberger, expressed concern that urine testing could detect the presence of cannabis days, or even weeks, after it was consumed.

Loco Division Secretary Bob Hayden said he is hopeful the case will set a precedent across the country.

“We’ll be using this case as a precedent for clauses in our workplace agreements. It’s a big win for workers rights in all industries,” Bob Hayden said.

“We know that saliva-based testing is the best way to detect impairment at work. We’ve been campaigning against the use of urine testing for quite some time, so to see Fair Work Australia rule in favour of the unions involved in this case is fantastic.

“We’re obviously completely in favour of anything that makes our industry safer, but urine testing has been used to discipline members, not make the industry safer.”