The PSA notified members in February that we had commenced the dispute process with Transport for NSW (TfNSW) regarding its proposal for a new Drug and Alcohol policy. Specifically, the PSA took issue with:
- the blanket 0.00 per cent blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The PSA took the view that it was unreasonable to implement 0.00 per cent BAC for all roles. The risk associated with a BAC above 0.00 per cent (depending on the reading) may be minimal resulting in the requirement for a BAC of 0.00 per cent for safety to be unnecessary. TfNSW had not undertaken a process to assess the differing risks across their workforce.
- Assuring the randomisation of testing was provided;
- Protecting employees from being targeted; and
- The potential punitive nature of the policy.
The PSA and TfNSW were unable to resolve all the issues as such, the dispute proceeded to the Industrial Relations Commission. The outcome of the dispute process was:
- Whilst 0.00 per cent BAC was to remain, the ramifications from testing above 0.00 per cent would differ depending on whether you are a high-risk or low-risk worker.
- A low-risk worker will not have disciplinary action instigated if they test above 0.00 per cent BAC on the initial test and their second test BAC is both lower than their first test and <0.02 per cent. They will also not be sent home.
- There is an exception to the disciplinary action not being taken: if a low-risk worker on the third consecutive occasion of testing above tests above 0.00 per cent BAC on the initial test and on the second test their BAC is lower than their first test and <0.02% per cent.
- There would be governance for the randomisation of the testing.
- A framework was developed by TfNSW to be used to manage employees when a positive result occurs. A positive result would not lead to an automatic termination; the individual circumstances of the employee would be taken into account, and it would be an approach of supporting the employee. Stances of the employee would be taken into account, and it would be an approach of supporting the employee.
- As a result of the dispute the PSA was able to secure internal checks and balances for randomization of testing, a less punitive policy, and in turn protect members from an unnecessary disciplinary action.
Also, we understand there will be an education programs provided by TfNSW which will assist members in understanding the policy and procedure and how to ensure you do not find yourself accidentally non-compliant.