Drug testing

Drug misuse in the workplace: An employer’s responsibilities


An episode of the BBC’s Rip Off Britain has raised questions about the suitability of workplace drug testing.

This comes after a contributor to the programme claimed he had been dismissed from his job at a power station after a routine drug test found opium in his system. However, he suggested the cause of this was the poppy seed bread he had eaten for his breakfast before the test.

The claim led to the show’s presenter, Angela Rippon, taking a standard workplace drugs test after eating poppy seed bread. The test did pick up the presence of morphine from the poppy seeds she had eaten, showing that the results of such tests must be treated with caution.

With the number of employers carrying out routine drug testing reportedly on the rise, the experts at LawforEmployers take a look the responsibilities of an employer and how you can protect your business.

Is drug testing necessary for your business?

Drug testing is often a sensitive topic in the workplace and can cause challenging situations for both employers and employees.

However in some industries, including rail and maritime, drug testing is mandatory and a regulatory requirement. Other industries will find that the risk of not introducing drug testing far outweighs the cost of carrying out tests. This include work involving driving or operating heavy machinery where it is vital for employees to be alert and focused.

Employers do have a duty of care to provide a safe working environment under the Health and Safety at Work Act. This includes ensuring they do not knowingly allow an employee to work whilst impaired by alcohol or after misusing illegal drugs.

If you need advice on complying with the Health and Safety at Work Act, you can talk directly to a specialist solicitor by calling 01282 695 400.

If you do test, create a drugs and alcohol policy

The most important step to implementing a compliant drug testing procedure is to setting out a clear drugs and alcohol policy.

The policy should be supportive of staff, with the ultimate aim of creating a safer working environment for all employees.

It is vital that this is shared with staff and it is made clear what tests will be used, the circumstances of the tests and what the consequences of a positive test will be.

Talk to employment experts on implementing policies and procedures

If you are considering introducing drug testing in your workplace, it is vital that you have the right advice to keep you complaint.

At LawforEmployers, our specialist solicitors can provide you with the policies and procedures to help keep your staff fully informed and protect you should a dispute arise with an employee.

To speak to one of our dedicated employment experts today, call us now on 01282 695 400.

Or, you can book your free initial consultation by completing our online contact form.