DPTI’s Proposed Drug and Alcohol Policy - We Are Still in Dispute

19 July 2018

The DPTI Drug and Alcohol Policy debacle is still with us even though members have agreed many months ago that the policy was unreasonable, unjustified, inequitable and that there were potential serious problems with implementation.

The PSA has received member feedback right from the beginning. We have raised members’ concerns with the Department over many months; held a number of meetings; worked with the other unions in DPTI; and lodged a dispute in the SA Employment Tribunal (SAET).

The dispute has been listed several times in the SAET since we first lodged it. At the most recent conference on 20 February 2018 the PSA raised a number of key concerns including:

  •  Members’ preference to abolish the policy
  •  The issues associated with a BAC of 0%
  •  The requirement to disclose medical information
  •  Confidentiality concerns about the Department holding such medical information
  •  That any policy should apply to all staff from the CE down
  •  Managers being uncertain of their responsibilities under the proposed policy
  •  The cost of the testing across all DPTI sites statewide
  •  Details about what actions will occur if a staff member is alleged to have breached the policy

Following the email distributed to DPTI staff on 17 July 2018 which included the inaccurate statement “the Drug and Alcohol Policy is live and in effect” the PSA immediately called for the matter to be
relisted in the SAET. The PSA’s position is that a number of issues remain unresolved.

DPTI had agreed in the SAET to provide an updated draft version of the policy to the PSA for further membership consideration. This has not happened.

Below are some of the key issues identified by members.

It is inequitable
There is still confusion around who can actually be tested. Does it include senior executives and managers?

It is unreasonable
The Blood Alcohol Content limit is set at 0%. This is unreasonable and not in line with other Government departments, for example SAPOL where the limit is 0.02%.

While any worker can lawfully drive a car with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04%, the DPTI policy is they cannot operate a desk, computer and telephone above 0%..

It is unjustified
There is no justification for the significant costs of implementing the drug and alcohol policy and procedure for approximately 3,000 DPTI workers throughout South Australia. DPTI believe the policy is justified in terms of the health and wellbeing of employees.

DPTI still refuses to demonstrate the need for this policy. The PSA has asked for the Deloitte report that the Department has used to justify their policy position. The Department still has not released the report.

Potential for discrimination
PSA members are concerned about the potential stigma arising from a false positive alcohol test. The risk is the worker has done nothing wrong but is effectively branded an alcohol or drug abuser.

There are no enforceable guidelines in the policy to ensure confidentiality. There is a real possibility that this could lead to unintended or intended discrimination, or other consequences.

Potential for further harm to the health of workers
The physical and mental health of our members is very important to the PSA. That is why the PSA is campaigning for the Department to listen to the concerns of PSA members and make significant changes to the policy. Short of this the whole policy should be abandoned.

Failure to engage in genuine consultation
Since May 2016 the PSA on behalf of our members has sought to engage in meaningful and genuine consultation with the Department on the draft policy and procedure.

Section 48 of the Work Health and Safety Act requires that the views of the workers are taken into account by the employer. Our members made numerous submissions, however the draft documents have not changed in any significant way to demonstrate that DPTI took any of the submissions into account