Can you ask an employee to take a lie detector test?

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Workplace investigations are an HR minefield, and finding the right answers can come down to figuring out who’s telling the truth and who’s fudging the facts.
 
Lie detectors exist, although they’re not quite as reliable as Hollywood would have us think, but can HR use them?
 
Unfortunately the answer is a resounding no, according to Roxx & McBride employment lawyer Ed Canning.
 
“The Employment Standards Act of Ontario prohibits anyone governed by that legislation from requiring, requesting, enabling or influencing, directly or indirectly, an employee to take a lie detector test,” Canning said.
 
Even asking an employee to “voluntarily” take a test is unacceptable, and if you do and an employee is punished for refusing the Ministry of Labour could require your organization to compensate for any loss of shifts or job. The MOL can also fine an employer for requiring an employee to take a lie detector test.
 
“While the people that administer these tests believe that they are 90 per cent accurate, some critics have said that they are, at best, 65 per cent accurate. That's only 15 per cent better than flipping a coin,” Canning said.
 
Instead of relying on illegal and ineffective tests, read up on some investigative best practices:
Eight ways to prevent employee theft
When a complainant wants to remain nameless
HR in the spotlight: Workplace investigation errors
 
  • Jane S. on 2014-07-22 6:22:24 PM

    Lie detectors are highly overrated. With proper training and adequate mental preparation, many people can defeat lie detectors.

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