Employers rights Regarding Drug & Alcohol Testing In The Workplace.

Posted By Kelly Hone on 2018-02-23 09:18

There are so many reasons as to why a company may choose to go ahead with a drug and alcohol test for their employees. The misuse of drugs and alcohol can significantly impact a person’s ability to perform their standard day-to-day activities, leading to reduced productivity throughout, as well as increasing the risk of accidents to themselves and other employees that are working around them.

The UK government and the Health and Safety Executive believe that there is a need for widespread drug and alcohol testing in the workplace, there are several industries where it is deemed essential, in particular safety critical areas, such as the Armed Forces, police, prison service, and public transport- Whatever your profession may be, alcohol & drug abuse is not acceptable in any workplace and will not be tolerated.

Did you know 90% of personnel directors from top UK organisations stated that alcohol consumption was an issue for their organisation!

The majority of these believe that alcohol was a minor problem, but 17% stated that is was a major problem. 
Main issues they came across were:

- Lateness to work and poor time keeping throughout. 
- Health & Safety Concerns.
- Poor performance and a loss of productivity.
- General bad behaviour.
- Broken connections with customer relations causing an effect on
the company business.

What is the law?

Health & safety regulations are constantly changing, so it is very important to keep up to date.

An employer has a duty to protect the health and safety of their employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act, including ensuring all employees are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the workplace. If you knowingly allow an employee to be in the workplace whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there is a chance you could be prosecuted.

There is additional legislation in place for the transport industry, making it a criminal offence for certain employees to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while working on railways, tramways, or other guided transport systems- obviously this is health and safety for the employee and general public.


Consent must be given for both an alcohol and a drugs test. When giving consent for an alcohol test, this will only apply to tests related specifically to alcohol and to no other substances or diseases, you must always obtain additional consent to perform a drugs test.

Are you able to carry out random tests?

 Employees can always refuse to take part in a drug or alcohol test, but this may lead to a dismissal!

Yes, and they are very popular in workplaces.
Random drug or alcohol testing is often implemented in an attempt to deter employees from misusing these substances. These tests must be genuinely random, it is potentially discriminatory to target an individual or group of employees for testing.


What are your rights?

Drug and alcohol testing in the workplace is legal as long as it is administered fairly.

You should not single out any individual employees for drug or alcohol testing unless this is justified by the nature of their job. You may target individuals if you have reason to believe that there has been a decline in their performance or behaviour due to the misuse of drugs or alcohol- for obvious heath and safety reasons!

If you as an employer wish to introduce drug & alcohol testing to your employees, you must have a drug & alcohol policy in place which must be demonstrated clearly to your employees in their contracts, training and staff handbooks.

If you are interested in booking a professional drug & alcohol test contact us for a FREE quotation today!


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