Drugs and Alcohol Testing

Drugs and Alcohol Testing

Peritus Health Management offers drugs testing to the European Workplace Drug Testing Society Standards for urine testing using instant point of contact testing and chain of custody procedures being employed where non-negative results are found.

Alcohol breath test is carried out using Home Office approved breathalysers which are calibrated on a 6 monthly basis.

Companies must have a drugs and alcohol policy in place prior to testing and they should have a clear process for managing employees who have positive and non-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. Guidance on Alcohol and Drugs Policies are available from ACAS and the HSE.

Policies should identify the company’s stance on drugs and alcohol in the workplace. Phrases such as ‘under the influence of’ drugs or alcohol are arbitrary without clearly clarifying the definition. Peritus Health Management recommends that it is defined as a ‘zero-tolerance’ to drugs and alcohol to avoid appeals on the grounds of what is a ‘safe’ level within the body. 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. It should also explain how employees with identified problems will be managed.

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 of prosecution under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 if an employee is found in possession of large quantities of drugs on your site with intent to supply and steps have not been taken to manage it legally.

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/Drug Problem

Framework for an Alcohol/Drug Policy

A model workplace alcohol policy should 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).

The Rules

How does the company expect employees to behave to ensure that their alcohol/drug consumption does not have a detrimental effect on their work?

Special Circumstances

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.

Disciplinary Action

The circumstances in which disciplinary action will be taken.

Summary Checklist

  1. Find out if you have a problem.
  2. Make a list of who you need to consult.
  3. Decide how your company expects employees to limit their drinking.
    1. 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.
    2. Find out if any of your managers or other staff need more information or training.
    3. 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

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.

Published date: 19th February 2018

Last revision: 25th July 2019

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