Drug and Alcohol Testing

#HRFridayFact: You need consent for drug and alcohol tests in the workplace so ensure you have a contractual clause or staff handbook policy

If you’re in an industry where you have workers who’s ability to do their job safely could be impaired if they are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, you should retain the right to impose testing. Because you need consent to be able to test employees, make sure there is a clause in their contract of employment or a policy in you staff handbook that allows you to make random tests.

Remember that employers have a legal obligation to look after their employees’ safety and wellbeing at work and that danger can come from a worker’s own intoxicated state or that of a colleague.

Testing is normally only carried out on employees that would be considered to be in ‘high risk’ groups. Examples include drivers, those who work at heights such as scaffolders, handlers of hazardous substances or those who work with vulnerable adults and children.

To avoid risks of victimisation or discrimination claims, drug and alcohol tests should be carried out either on the entire high risk group, eg. all drivers; or on a selection of employees that you can prove has been randomly selected.

Selecting individual workers would be acceptable in situations where you have reasonable belief to suspect that person was under the influence of alcohol or drugs

Although self-use kits are available, when conducting tests it’s a good idea to use a professional external organisation, to maintain consistency and avoid mistakes. You’ll also be able to ensure that proper records are kept and it is less likely that any positive results are objected to.

The frequency of tests, whether they are random and who they will be applied should be information contained within your contracts or staff handbook. This should also detail the likely consequences of a positive test result depending upon which substances are identified in the test, and the consequences of refusing to take a test.

We recommend that it is made very clear that tests will be held at random. Giving notification to drug and alcohol test totally negates the reason for applying them.

For further help and support in managing drug and alcohol testing, your staff handbook wording and what to do in the result of a positive test or refusal, call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail info@hrchampions.co.uk

11 August 2017, 11:33