Employee drug testing may be challenging and intimidating for businesses and HR professionals to deal with. It is critical to walk a fine line between all of the personal rights of your workers and the occupational health of your staff and the general public.
Today, our focus is on drug and alcohol testing at the workplace, whether an employee may reject testing, the penalties for failing a test, and the necessity of a drug and alcohol policy.
Legal Specifications Regarding Workplace Drug Testing
As an employer, you must safeguard all workers’ health, safety, and welfare. It would be best to ensure the well-being of any guests to your facilities or anybody else whom your worker’s employment could impact. These obligations include handling any health and safety concerns created by intoxicated workers while working. An employer may also be penalized if they enable an employee to work while intoxicated or fail to act on drug-related behaviors. Even when drug abuse occurs outside of work, the consequences may last for a long time, affecting an employee’s productivity at work by decreasing judgment and focus.
This implies that you must take adequate precautions to ensure that your employees are not hazardous to themselves or others due to alcohol or drug usage. Managing the dangers and consequences of drugs and alcohol such that your employees do not constitute a health and safety risk at work may be particularly crucial when utilizing machinery, electrical equipment, or ladders. In this setting, drug or alcohol abuse may harm the employee, coworkers, the public, and the environment. As part of the investigations for substance abuse, employers should only incorporate a Certified DOT Drug Test in addition to appropriate policies.
Times When an Employer Might Require a Drug or Alcohol Test
Even if there is an excellent need to conduct a workplace drug test, some guidelines must be observed. A person must provide their express written approval to perform a drug test, and a separate written consent must be acquired for an alcohol test. In rare situations, a trade union agreement may have already secured the necessary approval. For those in the transportation or construction sectors, where a person’s function depends on safety, automated screening for substance misuse is becoming more prevalent.
An employee’s employment contract may also contain a provision for drug and alcohol testing before they begin working with you, either via a particular contractual requirement or under any integrated workplace safety policy. Afterward, the employee’s prior agreement is used as the foundation for regular or random testing. Even if an individual earns in a safety-critical section of your organization and testing is essential because of the nature of their employment, you must first seek their written authorization for routine screening in the workplace if there is no previous contractual agreement.
Whether or Not the Employee Has the Right to Refuse a Drug or Alcohol Test
No one can be forced to partake in substance abuse screening at work, whether it’s urine, saliva, hair, or blood. As a result, while an employee has the right to refuse to test, if an individual is contractually obligated and refuses, you can take appropriate actions against them, such as termination of the contract where necessary.
If a staff has never given consent to random screening and fails to accept a drug screen, any unjustified corporal punishment or attempts to force testing might lead to that employee leaving the company and filing a constructive dismissal claim before an employment tribunal. Maybe there are other potential explanations for any productivity-related concerns, including emotional turmoil, exhaustion, or medical problems, that need to be investigated. Even if corrective injunctions and suspension could be substantiated for any unwillingness to accept drugs and alcohol screenings in a safety-critical role.
When Staff’s Drug Test is Positive
According to the circumstances, if an employee decides to be examined for addictive substances and fails the test, they may be fired immediately. However, a positive test result does not automatically warrant disciplinary action or dismissal, only if there is ample proof of illicit use at work. Even if an employee’s conduct indicates drug or alcohol use at work, no disciplinary action should be taken unless the results are confirmed. In this case, you may want to sanction the employee on full pay pending clinical findings and, therefore, any other investigation.
Before dismissing someone, you may want to look into the root issue of the positive test result. Staff members with a health condition that requires them to take prescribed medication might want to have suitable arrangements crafted for their specific position. Failure to do so may constitute disability discrimination.
Substance Abuse Policies At Work
Provided that approval is granted for workplace drug screening, it is critical to have a drug and alcohol policy that outlines necessary screening, how investigations will be undertaken, how the information will be used, and the ramifications for employees who test positive or refuse a test. Your policy can be part of comprehensive policies and procedures or stand-alone. The regulation must also accurately describe drug and alcohol policies and the punishment for breaking them.
However, state regulations differ and should be checked with your legal counsel before doing employment drug testing. Assuring candidates that they’d be tested is vital. Test a candidate only after making a conditional offer. Employers must choose between random and suspicion-based testing carefully. Regardless of your choice, always protect patient privacy.