n SA Mercantile Law Journal = SA Tydskrif vir Handelsreg - Rehashing the truth about polygraph testing in the workplace - a look at in legal context : case note

Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1015-0099
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2185



Speaking the truth has become somewhat of a rare commodity in modern society. It is estimated that people lie at least once or twice daily and in approximately 30-38 per cent in all interactions (Sridhar, 'Polygraph/narco-analysis testing' (2011) December S-15). It is therefore not surprising that, in the search for the ever elusive truth, polygraph testing is no longer a novel concept in the workplace. Employers in all sectors, ranging from security companies and retailers to corporate giants and governmental divisions, are increasingly enticed by this forensic investigative tool for various purposes ('Pre-employment polygraph tests prevent crime' http://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/22/87876.html, accessed on 15 September 2014; De Ryhove, 'Polygraphs and the test of fairness' http://www.polity.org.za/print-version/polygraphs-and-the-test-of-fairness-2012-02-29, accessed on 15 September 2014). In instances of misconduct, where the misappropriation of company property has a crippling effect on a business, employers often resort to the use of polygraphs in desperation (Rheeder, 'Polygraph testing in the employment environment' http://www.jrattorneys.co.za/south-african-labourlaw-case-articles/disciplinary-hearings/11-polygraph-tests-in-the-employment-environment.html, accessed on 15 September 2014). Here employers make use of this investigative tool in specific incident testing to facilitate the enquiry into the misconduct, to narrow the focus where there are a number of suspects who are employees, to corroborate statements or to exonerate innocent parties who are surrounded by circumstantial evidence (De Ryhove).

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