New laws may force companies to test employees for drink and drug driving

New legislation may see breathalysers coming into the workplace
New legislation may see breathalysers coming into the workplace

New legislation is being discussed that would allow employers to test those who drive for them for drink and drugs.

The report in the Examiner says that the legislation is proving controversial at committee stage and there is also a lot of unhappiness in the transport industry.

Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann are the powerhouses behind the move but some legislators say it is impractical and could bring huge costs to small or medium sized companies.

Eoin Gavin, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, was also very much against the proposal.

"Employers are not going to tolerate this," he tells the paper. "We’re going to lobby very hard against it. It’s an absolutely draconian measure.

"If a driver tests positive, you won’t be able to sack him. You’ll have to get him counselling so you’ll be caught for his time off and his counselling.

“If they’re serious about road safety and misuse of drugs and alcohol, why don’t they use the enforcement authorities?

“Why aren’t they out on the road breathalysing drivers? Why are they putting the onus back on the person who is paying the wages and paying the PRSI? Now they want us to do their job of enforcement as well.”

The details say that companies will be legally obliged to test drivers who they feel may be unfit to drive while they should also randomly test all drivers.

All tests will have to be carried out by a doctor or nurse, at the cost of the employer, and as it stands there is no exemption for small firms, so even self-employed one-person transport companies could be liable to comply.

Train drivers are currently tested but the bus companies cannot even raise the topic with unions without legislation being enacted.