1. There is currently no law specifically regulating polygraph (lie detecting) tests in South Africa!
2. Some employers make use of polygraphs to test the honesty of employees after company property has gone missing or after alleged misconduct. A few employers even request pre-interview polygraph testing!
3. These tests involve electronic sensors placed over the chest, abdominal and finger to measure respiratory, sweat gland, cardiovascular and blood pressure activity whilst the examinee responds to certain questions.
4. Remember that the outcome of this test may NOT be the sole reason for a dismissal (reference: Sosibo & Others). It may therefore only count as an aggravating factor to support other evidence against the employee.
5. A person who performs this test, called a polygraphist, can testify in court as an expert witness to support an employer’s claim against an employee. This test will cost the employer about R500.00 – R2 000.00+, excluding traveling fees.
6. Furthermore, for the outcome of this test to be permissible in court, the employer has to comply with a few strict rules:
a) The employer needs the employee’s written consent;
c) The polygraph questions may not be not be vague or misleading;
d) The questions should be explained to the employee prior to the test;
e) The employee has the right to an interpreter during proceedings;
f) The employee has the right to have a colleague/ another person present;
7. How accurate is this test? According to a very recent study (2015) conducted by the American Polygraph Association, a polygraph test is about 86% accurate! There are, however, many who disagree with the admissibility of this statistic and who argue that polygraph testing is subject to far too many variables.
Wishing you a fantastic day,