Random drug testing is becoming more commonplace in British businesses. Employers are well within their rights to drug test staff if they have grounds to suspect substance abuse.
A positive drug test result at work is a serious matter. The good news for you though is that, even if you fail a drugs test at work, this may not result in you being sacked on the spot.
Your Rights As An Employee
The law says that employers can make it mandatory for staff to undergo drugs testing at work if they suspect they are taking illegal substances. However they are required to have the employee’s consent before such screening can be carried out.
Businesses who want to drug test their employees are required to have a formal drugs testing policy in place beforehand. This policy must be clearly communicated to all members of staff.
The company drugs policy should state why the drug screening is taking place and the potential consequences facing an employee if they fail a drug test.
For How Long Drugs Stay in Your Body?
If you take a drug test at work, you may be asked to give a sample of urine which will then be screened for drugs of abuse. Most drugs are flushed out of the body in days and will not be picked up by a urine drug test after a week or so,
A saliva drug test is commonly used by employers now as it can determine if an employee is under the influence of drugs at the time of testing. The window of detection with a saliva drug test is much shorter than that of a urine test. 1 to 2 days is normally the longest detection period for a saliva test, for some substances it can be just a few hours.
Another growing trend is for employers to take a sample of your hair for drug testing. Although less common than urine or saliva drug testing, hair drug testing will pick up most substances, including alcohol, for up to 90 days.
Why You Could Be Tested
You could be singled out for testing because your bosses suspect that you might be under the influence of drugs whilst at work. Or you could have been chosen completely randomly for testing.
Random testing is most commonly seen in environments where staff are in critical roles such as vehicle drivers, or people working in the personal care system such as nurses.
Could You Be Sacked if You Fail A Drug Test At Work?
Before taking disciplinary action, Employers will be under a duty to investigate the circumstances fully
If the company investigation shows that a clear rule existed and that a fair process was followed, a worker can expect disciplinary action, including dismissal if a drug test is positive.
Different companies have different policies but generally you will find that being under the influence of drugs, whilst working, constitutes gross misconduct and you will be fired.
In some cases, if it is proved that an employee has a substance abuse problem, the employer may decide that sending them to a specialist for help and assistance is a preferable option.
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