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‘Workplace drug test’ warning

A leading employment lawyer has warned that businesses should have policies in place to deal with suspected drug taking in the workplace, as figures show that more companies are testing staff.

The warning comes as figures reportedly show that workplace drug testing has increased in the UK. According to the BBC, four leading testing companies reported rises in the number of tests being carried out of between 40 and 470 per cent.

Claire Haworth, solicitor in the Employment team at Lancashire law firm Napthens, reported that her team has seen a significant increase in the number of drug or alcohol-related enquiries from clients over the last 12 months.

Claire urges businesses to ensure there is a relevant section in the staff handbook dealing with the issue, and make sure staff are told why and what the consequences of breaching the policy would be.

She said: “It is clear from our experiences in the region, and those reported nationally, that businesses are becoming much more aware of drug and alcohol use and how it might affect an employee and the workplace.

“Our advice is clear – make sure that the correct systems and procedures are in place to deal with such an occurrence, but also make sure that staff know what is happening and why.

“Workers need to be aware of the circumstances in which medical testing may take place, the nature of the testing, how information obtained through testing will be used and the safeguards that are in place for the workers that are subject to it.

“Assuming an employer’s request for an employee to submit to a test is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances, a refusal to undergo testing may amount to misconduct and may therefore form grounds for disciplinary action depending on the circumstances.

“Managers with any doubts on the issue should contact their advisers for more information.”