The Fair Work Commission has ruled against urine testing because, unlike oral swabs, urine testing is unjust and invasive, but don’t really offer more than what oral swabs provide.
Urine drug tests are “unjust, unreasonable”
The FWC’s position regarding urine drug tests was explicitly stated in its Decision on the case filed by the Maritime Union of Australia against DP World Brisbane Pty Ltd, DP World (Fremantle) Limited, DP World Melbourne Limited and DP World Sydney Limited, over a new term in DP World’s drug and alcohol policy that apparently involves the incorporation of urine testing on top of oral swabs in order to confirm “non-negative” or positive results. This term appeared in the company’s enterprise agreements for its workers in its container terminals stated above.
The MUA decried the confirmatory urine tests because they are unjust, unreasonable, and constitute an invasion of an employee’s privacy. This is a stand agreed to by FWC Deputy President Anna Booth in the decision that she penned, saying that confirmatory urine tests “provide no more information than using oral fluid”.
Expert testimonies heard
Deputy President Booth heard testimony of two scientific experts who contended that, among other things, urine testing is not really that reliable at detecting cannabis at the standard detection level in the first or second hour after smoking. Oral swabs, on the other hand, are capable of identifying cannabis up to three hours after smoking. When a urine test is conducted between 30 minutes and two hours after smoking cannabis, it might not be able to detect workers that are impaired by it.
Further boosting the MUA’s case is the testimony that an oral swab is of “equal utility” to urine testing as far as drugs like amphetamines, MDMA, and opioids are concerned. However, the experts also confirmed that urine testing is preferable when testing for benzodiazepines.
After considering all the evidences which presented the pros and cons of oral fluid collection and urine testing, deputy president Booth ruled that that the method of testing for drugs in both the initial random test and the second test should be done through oral swabs and not urine testing.
“Urine testing may reveal personal choices of individuals that do not present a risk to safety in the workplace, but compromise their autonomy and dignity and lead to serious disciplinary consequences including job loss,” she said.