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Employee drug testing

Your company is successful and growing, revenues are at a record level, and you are moving aggressively to expand and take on more staff, but you are also conscious that you have to keep your house in order regarding substance abuse by staff members. A drug free workplace is paramount if you want to see your company excel. Employee rights are a tricky obstacle to manoeuvre around, however, drug use in the workplace is gross misconduct no matter what state or country you live in.

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You need to be sure that none of your staff are under the influence of any controlled substances or alcohol whilst at work, and the only way to be sure that is the case is to introduce random drug testing. Here are some tips to ensure that drug testing is performed in the correct way with the employees’ rights being fully considered.

1)     Your right as an employer:

It is an employer’s right to randomly test any employee for traces of drugs if it is a condition of employment. Whilst of course it’s not mandatory, it’s still the employer’s prerogative. So if you have concerns, or worries, then you’re within your rights to test a staff member to establish whether he or she is abusing alcohol or drugs whilst at work. If the drugs have been consumed at home they could still affect an employee’s performance at work and might raise health and safety issues.

2)     Equal rights:

If and when you introduce drug testing in your company, you must endeavor to ensure equal rights are maintained for all staff. You obviously can’t test based on religion, age or color. If drug testing is something you wish to implement on a regular basis, it must be by either a preset schedule or entirely at random, with no bias shown to any group whatsoever.

3)     Policy

Before you undertake your new policy of drug testing, it needs to be written into your policy handbook and employee contracts. If this is a new policy, then the amendments must be made before the tests are undertaken, and everyone has to sign off and agree on the amendments.

4)     Gender

Drug tests should be carried out by someone of the same gender as the subject if possible. If not then a person of the same sex as the subject should always be present. Everything relating to the test should be written down and logged. Failure to do so will result in a positive test being unusable.

5)     Surveillance

If you wish to install CCTV, or any recording devices, as part of your policy to remove all risk of drug or drug paraphernalia from the workplace then the approximate amount of surveillance needs to be notified to all staff members.  You cannot cover every area (the toilet for example), so set out a fair plan, make your staff aware of it and stick to it.

Employee drug tests are certainly not the easiest aspect of employee/employer relationships, however as detailed above, it can be a necessary evil.