With the new Health and Safety laws coming into effect earlier this year, it has now become common practice for companies to introduce Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing.
Employees under the influence of Drugs and Alcohol in the workplace is not as uncommon as you may think. These employees pose a substantial risk to other employees and the business. However there is still some misgivings about drug testing and some of the feedback we have received is that some companies had worries about what would happen if they implemented a policy.
Here are some FAQ’s about Workplace Drug And Alcohol Testing:
Why does my company need a drug and alcohol policy?
Under the Health and Safety in Employment Act, employers must take practical steps to provide a safe working environment for their employees. This would include ensuring your staff come to work fit and able to work free from the influences of Drugs and or Alcohol. If there is a Policy in place, there are clear guidelines and expectations put on your staff that would ensure a safer working environment.
We have it in our contracts that all employees sign, that’s enough aye?
Unfortunately not. There is nothing in the Employment Relations Act that allows employers to drug test their staff. The right to do so comes from the Health and Safety Act. This means that you need to have a policy in place that clearly points out the rights and obligations of all parties. This policy has to be separate from the employment contract. The contract itself should only refer to your commitment to health and safety and the requirement of all staff to follow and adhere to the policies and the fact that non adherence may be viewed as serious misconduct. We can help you with what the correct wording should be.
If I drug tested my staff, I may not have any staff left.
That statement alone is a scary thought in that, the employer must know or have a feeling that his/her staff wouldn’t pass a drug test. Turning a blind eye to a situation isn’t going to solve an issue where an accident occurs and the cause is put down to staff being under the influence of Drugs and or Alcohol. Employers are now personally liable and upon conviction, a possible jail term, if they fail or refuse to mitigate a known H&S problem. Furthermore, there isn’t a requirement to dismiss a staff member if they fail. In fact, we can help you put together a rehabilitation program that allows the employees to remain working. In saying that, if a staff member is not willing to help him/herself and refuses to become clean, is he/she the right person you want working for you and putting everyone around him/her at risk?
What sort of testing do you recommend?
Pre-employment Testing – If they have drugs and alcohol in their system before they start work, there’s a good chance they will continue to use after you hire them. Don’t take the risk.
Random Testing – This is where you test around 10% of your staff per month. It is designed to ensure your staff remain drug and alcohol free whilst at work. If you wait for an accident or until the staff are showing symptoms of intoxication, it may be too late. The way the testing is structures, all staff should be tested at least once a year.
Reasonable Cause – If any member of your staff are displaying weird or dangerous behaviour, you can request a drug test to rule out that to be the cause of the behaviour.
Post incident testing – If an accident happens, it will normally be mandatory for drug and alcohol tests to be conducted on the parties. You’ll find Work Safe will require one to rule out Drugs and or Alcohol to be the cause of the accident.
How can we start drug testing at our company?
Simply give us a call on 0800 838 228 and we’ll develop a Drug And Alcohol policy that is personalised to your company, do all the consultation with your staff on your behalf and then you’re good to go.