Workplace drug testing is becoming more common among UK employers aiming to ensure safety and minimise risks. However, there are important considerations around implementing an effective drug testing programme. Here’s what business owners need to know.
Why Test Employees For Drugs?
Drug testing acts as a deterrent to employees working while impaired. It protects against risks, including accidents, mistakes, poor decision-making, and inappropriate behaviour. Testing also provides insight into company culture and underscores that drug misuse is unacceptable.
While testing will not eliminate drug problems entirely, it contributes to a more responsible workplace. For industries like transport and manufacturing, where safety is paramount, testing is especially justified.
When Can You Legally Test?
UK law allows drug testing of employees in specific “safety-critical” roles where intoxication poses significant risks. Pre-employment testing is also typically permitted to screen candidates. However, testing must be reasonable, proportionate and relate directly to role-specific risks.
Blanket testing of all staff regardless of role is harder to justify legally. Policies must balance employee privacy against legitimate safety needs. Make sure your policy complies with data protection laws too.
What Methods Can Be Used?
Urine testing is the most common and cost-effective method but is intrusive. Oral fluid testing analyses saliva and offers a less invasive alternative. Hair testing detects longer-term use. Breath testing immediately identifies alcohol impairment.
Each method has pros and cons you must weigh. Enlisting an expert drug testing provider will help select the right testing approach for your workforce.
When Should Employees Be Tested?
The most common scenarios warranting testing include pre-employment screening, random periodic testing of current employees in safety roles, and ‘for cause’ testing if intoxication is reasonably suspected.
Testing can be performed at any time of day, but morning is generally recommended as substances are most detectable. Make sure testing is applied consistently across your workforce.
Find A Testing Company You Can Trust
Choosing a professional third-party provider to administer your drug testing programme is crucial. Seek an experienced company offering a full suite of services encompassing collection, transport, lab screening and result reporting.
Ask about their protocols, certifications, sample chain-of-custody and reporting procedures. Working with experts provides legal cover and reliability. They’ll be able to answer questions like “How much hair is needed for a drug test?” and talk you through the whole process. A good drug testing services supplier will offer quick results and plenty of expertise.
What Substances Should You Test For?
Commonly tested substances include cannabis, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, and alcohol. Some employers also test for benzodiazepines like Valium.
Discuss with your provider if certain region-specific substances like Spice should be included. Customise your panel to reflect potential risks associated with your industry and region. Casting too wide a net, however, may be considered excessive.
What Are The Best Practices For Testing?
The process must be handled confidentially and professionally. Employees should be informed about testing criteria and procedures ahead of time. Collection should occur in a private setting by trained personnel.
Follow meticulous chain-of-custody protocols for transporting samples to prevent tampering. Confirm the testing lab is reputable, certified and uses forensic methods like gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).
How Should Positive Results Be Handled?
Have clear policies governing how employees testing positive will be disciplined. Typically, a first-time positive test will lead to a warning or mandatory counselling, while repeat violations warrant suspension or dismissal.
Be mindful that addiction is often involved – provide information about resources to get sober. With care, testing can motivate employees to confront substance issues.