Will there Soon Be an Alcohol Lock in Your Company Car?

The alcohol lock is making its way in Belgium, including in Belgian labor law. In its one hundredth Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Belgian National Labor Council has enacted the obligation for all Belgian employers to establish a well-conceived alcohol prevention and treatment policy. The installation of an alcohol lock in the employer’s company car park can be introduced in the framework of such a policy.

A drink from time to time, whenever there is something to celebrate, improves the working atmosphere. But when employees are unable to control their alcohol use, this could have serious consequences. Evidently, the employees’ productivity will decrease and he will make more mistakes. Further, for many professions, a drunk employee will entail a considerable safety risk, for the employee himself, for his colleagues as well as for third parties.

This concern has incited the Belgian employers and employees to conclude their one hundredth Collective Bargaining Agreement within the National Labor Council, providing certain agreements regarding alcohol use, the prevention and the remedy of alcohol abuse at work. In line with the Belgian Labor Law tradition, the CBA n° 100 starts from the prevention. Further, this CBA creates a Legal framework for (i) the use of alcohol at the work place, (ii) procedures to tackle alcohol abuse at the work place, including testing by the employer and (iii) procedures for aid. At the latest on April 1, 2010 every employer must mandatory dispose of a well established prevention policy, enlisting equally the different testing tools and procedures.

The employer will, as from today, have the possibility to install an alcohol lock, e.g. in the company’s car park, as a testing device, provided that the use of this lock constitutes a part of an overall well-established alcohol prevention policy within the company. The prevention policy must mandatory be implemented in the company’s work regulations (art. 3 CBA 100). Thus, the input of the employees is required. Further, the employees must in any case be previously informed with possible sanctions that are imposed in case of positive test results and testing can never be executed in the absence of the previously expressed consent of the employee (art. 4 CBA 100).

De CBA does not determine how the testing with a alcohol lock must be executed in a concrete way. It does state that every employer must provide in a tailor-made policy. Any form of standardization is prohibited. The CBA also enables the employer to introduce the alcohol lock for a specific category of employees, e.g. because this category is particularly often on the road. In case of a positive testing result, the employer can apply adequate sanctions.