Increasingly we are being asked about drugs and alcohol testing in the workplace. If you test your employees, here are some top tips for managing this process while maintaining good employee relations:
1. Think before you test
Drugs and alcohol testing is an invasive process that should only be introduced where it’s truly required. Therefore, think carefully about whether you’re the kind of business that can justify testing and, if so, which roles within the business need testing. For example, it would be appropriate on health and safety grounds to ensure people operating heavy duty equipment are not under the influence. Whereas it’s not usually appropriate, and would be considered too invasive, to test office based employees, who instead should be managed through the normal performance management policies.
2. Know your rights
Ensure that the employment contract gives the business the contractual right to test employees, and in what circumstances. This should be backed up with a policy that sets out how the testing will be carried out, the frequency of the tests, the reasons for testing and the implications of a positive test or a refusal to carry out a test.
Communicate the reasons for the testing to employees in a clear and understandable way. Ensure that line managers maintain a consistent message by training them on the reasons for testing and the potential implications for employees. Make sure that briefings at the beginning of testing are clear and explain the implications of refusing to take the test.
4. Trustworthy testers
Appoint a trustworthy and reliable provider who understands your business and the reasons for your testing. However, recognise that they are not the employer and, therefore, if they advise of a positive test you still need to satisfy the normal requirements of a fair dismissal (e.g. a reasonable belief in misconduct) and/or to consider any disability discrimination issues which may arise.