Drug Testing In The Workplace: A Brief Guide

Drug use in the workplace continues to be an issue within the UK. It is a topic that can often be neglected, and its dangers are commonly overlooked. It is legal for someone to take prescribed medical drugs at work, however, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 it is a criminal offence for employers to knowingly allow the supply and use of drugs in their workplace unless they have been verified and prescribed via medical professional.

Therefore, many employers will introduce workplace drug test kits in order to avoid the use of illegal substances and keep their staff as safe as possible.

Why Drug Test In The Workplace?

  • Drug testing helps employers identify those who may be participating in substance abuse, and who may be a potential danger to their company and other employees.
  • It keeps employers, employees, and workplaces overall in line with Government law and legal requirements.
  • Keeps staff safe and reassured that there is no threat to them at work from their other workmates.
  • Improves morale, overall company performance, better judgements, and productivity levels.
  • Decreases absentees and accidents

The purpose of drug testing at work is to ensure laws are being followed, but also prioritise the safety of colleagues at work. When personal and private company information and money is being handled, it must be handled by professionals who can make the best judgements. When someone is intoxicated, this significantly clouds their judgement, putting company data at risk.

Employee Rights

It is important to know your legal rights as an employee being drug tested at work, as well as what your employer must and mustn’t do. For example, drug testing should be clearly written and identified either in your contract or a company manual.

If a business owner decides that they are going to undertake ‘random’ drug testing, then the tests must be performed randomly and should never involve any discrimination against certain employees. 

If an employer has a reason to believe someone is using drugs, a drug test can be proposed to the employee, as long as the employer has reasons under the occupational health policy. However, the employee can refuse the test. This may result in disciplinary and can lead to termination.

How Do Drug Tests Work?

Drug testing usually works by testing blood, urine, sweat, hair, or saliva. The most common type of testing is usually the urine, as drugs can stay present in the urine for up to 3/4 days. Drug tests usually only tell you whether or not drug particles are present in the body. They do not tell you the levels.

Final Words

Every employer and their employees should be aware of a drug testing procedure, and each party should know and understand their full legal rights. Drug testing helps keep businesses abiding by laws and keeps staff safe from any harmful situations that may arise from substance abuse. Owners should also grant those who are victims to drug addiction, time off for rehabilitation and any other support they require via their workplace.