Drug and Alcohol Testing at Work: HR Breakfast Club December Summary
This month Gabrielle Sullivan, Director Employment and Industrial Relations Team at Bradley Allen Love Lawyers, spoke about drug and alcohol testing at work and lawful and reasonable directions.
Gabrielle discussed the complexities around testing your employees for drugs and alcohol. In particular she reminded us that the most defensible testing is in instances where:
- There is a problem with performance (i.e. someone is unable to do their job because they are affected); or
- There is an issue with ‘integrity’ (i.e. your business cannot be seen to have employees who consume drugs and/or alcohol. For example, it may be incompatible with your employment as a policeman to do cocaine).
It is in the employer’s interest to have a drug and alcohol policy which outlines:
- When you might test employees (targeted testing makes most sense in relation to performance concerns, and random drug testing is defensible in organisations with integrity concerns);
- What sorts of tests you might administer (saliva swab, blood test etc);
- How employees will be notified of any test.
Even without a policy, employers can direct individuals to attend a drug and alcohol test. This is a lawful and reasonable direction in circumstances where the employer has either performance or integrity concerns. However, the Fair Work Commission looks favourably on employers who have clear drug and alcohol policies and follow their own policies.
Employers should be aware that this is a tricky and unsettled area of law, and when in doubt they should seek advice.