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Coming soon to your office… random drug testing?


A recent survey carried out by Croner reveals that one in eight companies is already testing employees for drug abuse.

Introducing random drug testing for staff has been investigated by almost half of all UK companies.

Richard Smith, consultant for Croner says, “The general softening of society’s attitude towards consumption of certain illegal drugs has raised subsequent wider concerns over the impact of drugs at work, and has left companies facing a major dilemma on how much influence they can have over an employee’s private life.”

The research providers indicate that while a company has a right to protect their corporate image they must also only take such measures if there are clear vissible signs of substance abuse.

Smith continues “If companies are considering implementing workplace drugs tests, they need to establish explicit guidelines on what they’re doing, what is expected of their employees and what sanctions they risk if they fail any given test.

This issue raises a great debate topic and raises questions of legal and civil liberty implications. HR Zone would like hear your view. Perhaps your company already carries out random drug testing? What are your experiences?

2 Responses

  1. Drug testing
    Most employers are also grappling with the problems of the law in this area, specifically the HRA. Without consent there is no possibility of the testing other than monitoring performance and having good policies in place clearly outlining the expectations as to drug and alcohol useage.

    Even once the issue of consent is resolved the employer needs to take special care in access to those drug reports ( DPA) and also acting on them in the event of use being identified but no problems with performance in the workplace.

    Once again it boils down to clear expectations and boundaries in the policies and clear guidelines as to what happens next in the event of an issue being raised through the testing.

    It also raises other issues under HRA as testing for drugs in the person’s system needs to confined to certain drugs and those prescribed should remain private unless there is real cause for the employer to know about them AND permission granted for disclosure.
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  2. yep
    Ive worked with a large pharmaceutical company over the past couple of years and they have a compulsory drug testing policy, on site with their internal occupational health dept, for all new candidates after offer stage (ie, only once the recruitment process has been reduced to one candidate). All offers are subject to a negative drugs test and on-site medical. However, as case-law has suggested, compulsory testing for existing employees can interfere with Europe’s idea of respect for privacy of family life etc. Therefore, I believe it is nay-impossible to INTRODUCE a policy of compulsory testing, but ok at the point of recruitment.

    Voluntary policies are obviously ok, but it is difficult to take definitive action if an employee refuses an invitation for a drug test: on what grounds could one defend a claim for unfair dismissal? Im not sure there is one. I believe employee reaction would be more promising if guidance, counselling and support were offered to a positive test – but alcoholism has been an abused drug for years and causes millions of pounds to be lost: Im yet to come accross a business that does not support alcohol consumption to a degree, yet will be supportive of problems if they, perchance, are admitted to and arise.

    Just my thoughts …

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