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Strikes and Breathalyser Tests

January 21, 2014

The Labour Appeal Court, in a judgement by Judge Musi, has said a few things about strikes and breathalyser tests. Some may view the judgement as correct but it is not a helpful judgement (JA82/13).

 

The workers at a company had demanded that there be no more breathalyser tests. They went on strike about it. The company argued that it was a health and safety issue and not a collective bargaining matter. The Labour Court (the lower court) found in favour of the company but the higher court – the Labour Appeal Court did not. In fact, Judge Musi said as follows (about the breathalyser test):

In my view, an employee’s consent is required before such an invasive and intrusive act…

 

Why or how it can be intrusive and invasive was not explained by the judge. In addition, the need for it – to prevent any possible accident in the future – even just one accident - should far outweigh such concerns and it should not be a subject for collective bargaining or that it can be a ‘demand’ that you can go on strike about.

 

Anyway, once again, employers need to be more careful in yet more areas of their relationship with the employees. Once again, a greater burden and a greater cost.

Suggestion: make sure that, from day one of employment, employees sign a contract that sets out a breathalyser requirement and that they consent to it, etc.

 

 

 

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