After the recent reinterpretation of a provision in the Labor Code approved by the Constitutional Commission, Colombian employees are allowed to go to work, regardless whether they are sober or intoxicated with alcohol or narcotics!
Last year, two students from the University of Uniciencia in Bucaramanga sent a brief to the country’s Constitutional Court arguing that employers should not be allowed to dismiss or discipline their employee for consuming alcohol or narcotics unless it affects their work performance.
According to them, the country’s Labor Law pertaining to the previous argument violates two articles of the Constitution — one that refers to the equality of all people before the law and the obligation of the state to provide special protection for people who find themselves in a weak position, owing to their economic circumstances or physical or mental condition, and the other one which guarantees equal opportunities among workers.
As a result, Columbia’s Constitutional Court ruled on modifying the unconstitutional articles of the Labor Law and categorized alcohol consumption and narcotic addiction at the same level as occupational illness arguing that these substances ‘don’t always hinder how one performs a work’.
However, the Court placed some exceptions to the new rule to prevent a disastrous situation, specifically, high-risk activities for the worker, his co-workers, or third parties.
In the case of lower risk activities, the modified Labor Code states that disciplinary measures may not be taken, if the employer cannot prove the negative impact of the use of psychoactive substances on the worker’s fulfillment of their obligations.
The controversial ruling faced criticism from the public and from organizations advocating drug abuse prevention.