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Introducing a drugs and alcohol testing policy

Are you thinking about introducing a drugs and alcohol testing policy?

You may be considering introducing a drugs and alcohol testing policy to your company but before you start testing your employees there are number of points to consider.

Firstly, the need for such a policy. Do you work in a potentially dangerous environment e.g. manufacturing, transport oil rigs etc? If so, then you have a duty to protect your employees and customers so testing for alcohol and drugs may be essential or at least appropriate to prevent accidents or significant damage to the business.

You must then have detailed information in your contracts and policy regarding drug and alcohol testing including when it will be carried out, the reasons for it, what is done with the results and what consequences the employee may face if they have a positive result.  In addition, you must gain written permission each time you request a test to be carried out.

Tests can be carried out with cause i.e. because the employer has reasonable belief that the employee is impaired by drugs or alcohol and that this could cause a safety risk, or tests can be carried out randomly which can be very effective but needs to genuinely be random!

Processing a drug or alcohol test should be carried out by a third party to ensure a sample is handled correctly, not tampered with and is analysed and interpreted correctly. A positive result may invoke disciplinary action including dismissal, but we would always advise that you fully investigate and consider referral to professional support instead of disciplinary action, where feasible.

A drug or alcohol testing policy may be appropriate and necessary for your workplace, but it should be considered fully before implementation and employees should be briefed accordingly. Any such policy should not be used as a method of policing employees’ behaviour outside work.

Questions about introducing a drugs and alcohol testing policy in your workplace? Get in touch today and we’ll support you, step by step.

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