Australia Fire Fighters Say Random Drug Alcohol Testing Invasion of Privacy

 
Firefighters describe Australian State Government’s move to introduce random drug and alcohol testing across the brigade as an unnecessary invasion of personal privacy, according to a report from their union.
 
 
Fire Brigade Employees Union State Secretary Jim Casey said the State Government move was unwarranted, given there is no established problem with drug and alcohol abuse among firefighters. (WCxKit)
 
 
“There is absolutely no evidence to suggest firefighters have a problem with substance abuse and, on that basis, we see this as a gratuitous invasion of personal privacy. Nobody asks Mike Gallacher, the NSW Cabinet or their staffers to submit to random drug and alcohol testing,” Casey said. “StateGovernment ministers make multiple-billion dollar policy and investment decisions all the time. How do we know their judgment is not impaired by substance abuse?” he added.
 
 
Casey went on to say the brigade already has effective drug and alcohol protocols in place that are supported by the union. As he sees it, random drug and alcohol tests represent nothing more than a waste of time and money. (WCxKit)
 
 

Firefighters run into burning buildings every day; they’re highly aware of the need to remain sober while on the job,” Casey added.

 
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.


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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.

Union Says Cost Cutting Motive for Measures Impacting Workplace Safety

Cost-cutting, not deregulation, is the motive for a package of measures announced by the government which will impact on the work of the Health and Safety Executive, British trade union Prospect reported recently.
 
The comments follow the launch of a New Strategy for Health and Safety Regulation in Great Britain that will include: (WCxKit)
 
1.      A further review of regulation.
 
2.      A reduction in proactive regulation.
 
3.      The introduction of more fees for employers when HSE inspectors find fault.
 
 
Commenting on the strategy Prospect negotiator Mike Macdonald noted, “Today's announcement shows  health and safety regulation in Britain is now driven by the government's wish to cut spending rather than by a professional assessment of what action saves lives and avoids accidents.
 
 
The key question should be what type of regulation best suits British business and its workforce, not a simplistic dogma that all regulation is bad.”
 
 
At present, Macdonald stated, the average small or medium business is more apt to cease trading after six years than be visited by an HSE inspector, averaging once every 14 years.
 
 
It's hardly excessive regulation and it also seems perverse to announce a review after introducing such significant change,” Macdonald continued. "It looks as if the government is determined to announce cuts before Professor Ragnar Lofstedt even starts his review. What happens if he concludes that more inspection, not less, is required?”
 
 
Prospects HSE members firmly believe that proactive inspection is vital not least because prevention is less expensive and better for business, employees and the taxpayer than the cost of putting lives back together after an accident, according to Macdonald. (WCxKit)
 
 
We understand that the removal of proactive inspection from lower-risk workplaces is one of the least damaging options. But the government should recognize that this still means lives are being risked to achieve 35% budget cuts, far in excess of the average cut across the public sector. We have to ask, is health and safety such a low priority that it deserves such a cut,” Macdonald added.
 
  
Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
 
 
 
Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.
 
©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

CANADA Supreme Court Says Management Has Right to Terminate Employees Unable To Perform Essential Duties

Attendance Management and the Law – Case Study One

The Supreme Court  of Canada upheld grievance arbitration decisions in two court cases endorsing the right of management to terminate union employees who cannot fulfill their basic employment contract of work for compensation. 

Essentially the  Court ruled an employer must help a disabled workers to do the essential duties of the job, not change the job to fit the functional abilities of the employee.  This duty is found in Canada’s Constitution and the Human Rights Codes of each of Canada’s Provinces and Territories.

In addition, regular attendance at work is an essential duty under contract employment.  At arbitration it was found neither employee was, for the foreseeable future, able to attend work regularly.  They were chronic absentees. The principles apply whether OCC or non-OCC injury or illness.

I.  The McGill Case (SCC) (2007)

The Facts

1.  Unionized employees

2.  Terminated for chronic absenteeism

3.   Return-to-Work attempts unsuccessful

4.  At arbitration, totally disabled, prognosis indeterminable

5.  Accommodated by Hospital/CBA provisions flexibly applied

McGill – Deschamps Judgment

“. . . there is no doubt that an employer may establish bona fide measures to ensure employees’ regular attendance.” (para. 18)

Accommodation

“. . . parties to collective agreement have a right to negotiate clauses to ensure that sick employees return tow work within a reasonable period of time.”  (para. 18)

“. . .the establishment of a maximum period of time for absences is thus a form of negotiated accommodation.” (para.18)

Undue Hardship

1.  Collective agreement provisions are relevant, not determinative.

2.  Assessment to determine if “undue interference in the operation of the employer’s business” has occurred. (para. 20)

3.  Assessment must be global “. . .starting from the beginning of the absence.: (para. 33)

4.  A “global” assessment is one which does not compartmentalize an employee’s various health problems.  (para. 33)

The Employee’s Role

1.  Must be reasonable

2.  If critical of a proposed employer accommodation – has an onus of proof.

McGill –  Abella Judgment

Discrimination

1. Workplace requirements “. . .cannot disadvantage an individual by attributing stereotypical or arbitrary characteristics.” (para. 48)

2.  “no every distinction is discriminatory. . .” (para. 49)

3.  “It is the link between that [protected] group membership and the arbitrariness of the disadvantaging criterion . . . that triggers the possibility of a remedy.” (para. 49)

4.  Time-defined collective agreement provisions respecting health related absences . . . Are NOT arbitrary in the human rights context because “they do not unfairly disadvantage disabled employees because of stereotypical attributions of their ability.” (para. 56)

5.  “The length of time provided by the negotiated clause must be assessed in the context of the nature o the employment and other relevant factors, to determine whether a prima facie case of discrimination is established.” (para. 59)

6.  Held – no discrimination occurred in the case.

Just Cause

1.  “Non-culpable absenteeism, including the failure to achieve a reasonable degree of attendance because of illness, is accepted arbitral jurisprudence as a just cause for dismissal.” (para. 18)

2.  “This does not target individuals arbitrarily or unfairly because they are disabled: . . .it balances an employer’s legitimate expectation that employees will perform the work they are paid to do . . . with the legitimate expectations of employees with disabilities that those disabilities will not cause arbitrary disadvantage.” (para. 63)

McGill – Attendance Management Lessons

1.  Each case must be determined on its own facts.

2.  Collective agreement provisions are relevant factors in assessing the duty of reasonable accommodation.

3.  Collective provisions cannot be applied mechanically. (workersxzcompxzkit)

4.  Ask the question:  “Are individuals being excluded based upon their actual abilities, or on attributed ones?”

5.  The fundamental contract of employment – work, including regular attendance at work, for remuneration – anchors the analysis in all discrimination and duty to accommodate cases.

Author:  Attorney David Brady  can be reached at 416-864-7310 or david-brady@hicksmorley.com and http://www.hicksmorley.com

“FRAUD PREVENTION” PODCAST or WEBINAR (no charge) 
Click here:
http://www.workerscompkit.com/gallagher/mp3
By: Private investigator with 25 years experience. Learn how to prevent fraud.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers’ comp issues.

©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

PENNSYLVANIA Pittsburgh Firefighters Agree to Random Drug Testing

Pittsburgh‘s firefighters  say “yes” to random drug testing for the first time in city history, as part of a policy where firefighters may be fired for a second drug offense.

According to  the Associated Press, the testing agreement was announced recently as part of a new five-year contract backed by the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1.

Under the  new policy, firefighters who do not pass a drug test are to be placed on a “last chance agreement” whereby they can be fired for a second failed drug test. (workersxzcompxzkit)

The decision  on whether to fire firefighters over a drug test will also be handled by neutral arbiters as opposed to a trial board consisting of three other firefighters.  The trial boards will still be in place to review potential firings for other offenses.

Author Robert Elliott, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers’ Compensation costs, including airlines, health care, manufacturing, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. He can be contacted at: Robert_Elliott@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.

We accept articles on WC cost containment. Contact us at: Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com. Know special cost containment tips, share them with our readers.


Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker about workers’ comp issues.


©2009 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

Top Considerations When Implementing RTW Program with Unions

Employers with unions face very different and unique challenges not faced by non-union companies. Consider these 15 Tips in designing and implementing an effective return-to-work policy.

1. Determine what management rights you may already have to implement a return-to-work program.

2. Negotiate counterproductive clauses out of the collective bargaining agreement.

3. Consider buying out in negotiations particularly onerous clauses, such as minimum manning provisions, limitations on temporary transfer of employees and prohibition on work out of classification.

4. Obtain top management commitment to the program. Educate in-house counsel.

5. Communicate the program to the unions, employees and supervisors by sitting down and talking with them. Approach the most receptive unions first. Use them as a selling point before approaching more difficult unions.

6. Eliminate collateral source payments, such as long-term disability, short-term disability and use of vacation and sick time, effectively allowing employees to earn more when they don't work than when they do.

7. Show the employees and union how much workers' compensation costs the company with sound factual information.

8. Use a comparison showing how much in sales it takes to pay for injuries. Sales to Pay for Accidents Calculator.

9. Get signed waivers to avoid future claims, such as American with Disability (ADA) claims.

10. Request "withdrawal cards" before lump sum settlements are authorized.

11. Share savings with employees who participate in the company's return-to-work program. Add this to bonuses, not to wages, so it does not become an ongoing obligation.

12. Consider employer legal responsibilities under ADA. Remind the union of their own obligations to support these legal requirements.

13. Have a company representative attend all hearings to describe the job requirements and offer details as needed. For more cost-saving tips go to WC Cost Reduction Tips. Show the REAL cost of workers' comp with the Real Cost Calculator. Workers' Comp Kit® is a web-based online Assessment, Benchmarking and Cost Containment system for employers.

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws are different. Consult with your corporate legal counsel before implementing any cost containment programs.

©2008 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com

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