10 per cent of management-level employees working in London have admitted to being under the influence of drugs at work or during a work-based social event, according to a recent survey.
Earlier this week, we blogged about how employers can balance their obligation of care to their employees and their legal responsibilities to report substance abuse when addressing drug use in the workplace. Today we will be blogging about how employers can use drugs screening to help them to prevent and address drug use within the workplace. Please read on for more.
Employees and drug screening in the workplace:
While drug screening is generally accepted to be an effective process, implementing drug testing can prove to be a sensitive issue for an organisation.
It is important to remember that testing requires consent by the employee, and employees cannot be forced to participate in drugs testing – although refusal to undergo drugs testing may, in some cases, lead to disciplinary action.
Generally, it is advisable to have drugs testing policies included within employment contracts and, to avoid the associated stigma, link drugs screening to an organisation’s set health and safety policies.
Implementing drugs screening
Drugs testing in an organisation can be randomised among all employees. Alternatively it could be limited to new employees as part of the recruitment process or to employees who carry out job functions where their mental impairment could endanger themselves or others. Pilots, for example, are often required to undergo drugs testing in order to make sure they are safe to fly.
It is critical that random testing is applied in a genuinely random manner. If it can be shown that particular employees have been singled out for testing – unless specifically necessitated by their job – then there is potential for those employees to take action against their employer and the perceived discrimination.
It is also important for an employer to properly communicate its drugs testing policy to employees. Simply outlining the policy in a staff handbook is not always enough. Employers should consider how staff can be reminded of the policy on a regular basis without implying a sense of mistrust on behalf of the management.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by linking screening to the company’s health and safety policy, and by advising staff that drugs screening helps to protect their safety (particularly if their job contains potential hazards).
Drugs testing in the workplace: some practical considerations
There are some practical issues to be considered when implementing drugs screening in the workplace, for example:
• The type of screening required
• How to ensure the process is secure and samples cannot be tampered with
• What the consequences of a positive test will be
Employers looking to implement drugs screening should make sure that any testing service used is fully accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).
Find out more about the pre-employment screening, rehabilitation, occupational health, wellbeing and other healthcare services that we can help implement within your organisation by visiting our website or by calling 0845 371 3301.