Dutch employers want privacy law changes, to test staff for alcohol and drugs

The two main Dutch employers organisations VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland have called for changes to the privacy laws to allow companies working with chemicals and radioactive products to test staff for drink and drugs.

They say employers in sectors where public safety is an issue should be able to test staff. ‘What if a drunken worker makes a mistake, causing an explosion and the release of toxic chemicals?’ the VNO-NCW said in a statement.

Such tests are currently banned in law because the legislation does not explicitly allow them. Pilots and train drivers can be tested for substance abuse because this is specifically allowed in law.

Employers also want greater powers to question workers who are off work sick about their health issues during the first six weeks. Currently, questioning about what workers can do – such as sit, stand or concentrate – is restricted to medical staff. This, employers argue, is adding bureaucracy to the reintegration process.

In addition, they want more details about the health of people employed through staffing agencies under schemes to get the handicapped or long-term unemployed back into work.

They argue such information is pertinent to the type of work people can do by, for example, preventing someone with autism being employed by a call centre.