A growing number of Australians have faced either ‘for cause’ or random drug testing in the workplace. As an employer you are responsible for providing a safe workplace free from the impact of drugs and alcohol for all employees. However, you must also ensure that the legal rights of everyone are protected.
Depending on the industry, certain regulatory rules have been put in place by the Australian government or industry body to ensure the safety and wellbeing of individuals in the workplace. While many employers are aware that workplace drug testing is possible, these regulations are important to understand before conducting any sort of drug or alcohol testing in the workplace.
Is drug testing the workplace legal?
In Australia it’s 100% legal to conduct workplace drug testing and for some industries, such as mining, construction, aviation, drug and alcohol testing is regulated to carry out the job.
While it is legal, a comprehensive workplace drug and alcohol policy must be in place beforehand. This policy is a legal document that outlines the objectives, limits and consequences of your program for the prevention and control the impact of drug use in the workplace. A well written and communicated policy can help protect your company from litigation or unfair dismissal claims should a positive drug test lead to such.
When can you drug test an employee?
As an employer, you have the right to insist on a drug test without notice, but only if the reason is justifiable, which can be defined as:
- Serving to improve productivity in the workplace
- Potential health concerns
- Upholding employee integrity
- Or enforcing workplace safety.
But having a justifiable reason isn’t enough to conduct a drug test. You are also required to stick to parameters outlined in the drug and alcohol policy for your business, such as:
- When a drug test can occur
- The type of drug test
- How the results will be used
- And how the company will respond to a positive test.
If you suspect an employee is using drugs, you can act in accordance with your drug and alcohol policy. It is legal to request an employee to undergo a drug or alcohol test, but only if the parameters are made clear in your policy.
Employees do have the right to decline a drug test, but in accordance with your workplace drug and alcohol policy, they may face disciplinary action. The company can argue that an employee’s refusal to undergo the request can serve as grounds for dismissal. Therefore, your workplace drug and alcohol policy should state that in the event an employee declines a drug or alcohol test, termination is a potential outcome.
Drug testing in the workplace
Drug testing in the workplace is a common practice used by employers to protect the safety and security of all employees. Whether you are looking for onsite testing options or urine drug testing kits, MediNat can help your business carry out legal and effective drug testing precautions in the workplace. For additional information on our products and services, call us at 1300 725 520 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our friendly staff members will be happy to assist you further.