Drugs and Alcohol Testing
Peritus Health Management is able to offer drug and alcohol testing using chain of custody procedures. We do recommend however that companies do have a drugs and alcohol policy in places prior to testing and that they consider what to do with employees who have positive and negative results.
Drug and Alcohol Policies
A drug and alcohol policy is essential to manage any employees who appear to be under the influence of these substances at work.
Policies should identify the company’s stance on drugs and alcohol in the workplace. Peritus Health Management recommends a zero-tolerance to drugs and alcohol as difficulties can result from identifying ‘safe’ levels within the body as each person is different and in the case of some drugs, the dose-response rate varies too much to be able to identify ‘safe’ levels.
Policies should refer to the use of tests under varied circumstances – pre-employment, random or for cause – to determine whether an individual is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and in breach of company policy.
The legal position
If you knowingly allow an employee under the influence of excess alcohol or drugs to continue working and this places the employee or others at risk, you could be prosecuted. You may also be at risk if an employee is found in possession of large quantities of drugs on your site with intent to supply.
The Transport and Works Act 1992 makes it a criminal offence for certain workers to be unfit through drink and/or drugs while working on railways, tramways and other guided transport systems. The operators of the transport system would also be guilty of an offence unless they had shown all due diligence in trying to prevent such an offence being committed.
Dealing with an employee with a possible alcohol problem
- Employees with a drink problem have the same rights to confidentiality and support as they would if they had any other medical or psychological condition.
- Disciplinary action should be a last resort. A court may find a dismissal unfair if an employer has made no attempt to help an employee whose work problems are related to drinking alcohol.
- The cost of recruiting and training a replacement may be greater than the cost of allowing someone time off to obtain expert help.
- Many people with an alcohol problem are able in time to regain full control over their drinking and return to their previous work performance.
- It may be very difficult for people to admit to themselves or others that their drinking is out of control. They need to know that you will treat their drinking problem as a health problem rather than an immediate cause for dismissal or disciplinary action.
- If employees’ drinking is a matter of concern, they should be encouraged to seek help from their GP or a specialist alcohol agency.
- Drug or alchol addiction or misuse is not considered to be a disability unless they have ill health effects as a result of this such as liver failure.
Framework for an alcohol / drug policy
A model workplace alcohol policy would cover the following areas.
Why have a policy?
Who does the policy apply to?
(Note: best practice would be for the policy to apply equally to all grades of staff and types of work.)
Who is responsible for implementing the policy?
(Note: all managers and supervisors will be responsible in some way but it will be more effective if a senior employee is named as having overall responsibility.)
How does the company expect employees to behave to ensure that their alcohol / drug consumption does not have a detrimental effect on their work?
Do the rules apply in all situations or are there exceptions such as prescribed medications with side effects?
Statement which identifies what the company’s tolerance level is and the circumstances and arrangements for testing of employees for alcohol / drug levels.
A statement assuring employees that any alcohol /drug problem will be treated in strict confidence.
A description of the support available to employees who have problems because of their drinking / substance misuse.
A commitment to providing employees with general information about the effects of drinking alcohol / taking drugs on health and safety.
The circumstances in which disciplinary action will be taken.
- Find out if you have a problem.
- Make a list of who you need to consult.
- Decide how your company expects employees to limit their drinking.
- Decide at what point and in what circumstances you will treat an employee’s drinking as a matter for discipline rather than a health problem.
- Find out if any of your managers or other staff need more information or training.
- Consider providing staff with general information about alcohol and health.
Consider how you can make sure that if an employee has a possible alcohol or drugs problem, this is noticed and help is offered.
Think about how you will let your workforce know about company policy on alcohol and drugs – consider supplying them with a copy with their payslip.
Drug Detection Times in Urine
DECTECTION TIME IN URINE
|Alcohol||Alcohol (ethanol)||1 day||Body metabolises alcohol out of the blood at about 18mg/dl an hour|
|Amphetamines( including ecstasy)||Parent drug e.g. amphetamine, ecstasy||2 – 4 days|
|Barbiturates||Parent drug||2 – 16 days|
|Cannabis||Delta 9 THC Acid||1 – 5 days||Can be up to a month if prolonged use|
|Cocaine||Benzoylecgonine||1 – 2 days|
|LSD||LSD||1 – 2 days|
|Methadone||Methadone / EDDP||1 – 3 days|
Want to find out more?
For more information about our drugs and alcohol testing services, contact us