Do you have a robust drink / drug testing system?

Many companies now have a drink / drugs policy and will regularly test employees, especially if they drive members of the public or dangerous machinery. An employer will view the failure of the test by a member of staff to be misconduct at best, or grounds for instant dismissal at worst.

It’s essential, therefore, to have a robust testing system in place and a thorough disciplinary process. Employers will often rely on a straightforward saliva swab test which will detect a drug that has passed through the mouth, however, it may be unwise to rely solely on this test. Traces of drugs can be found on bank notes, (not often but has been proven to happen) which when counted, can enter the mouth causing a reading. On the surface it would like a straightforward case for instant dismissal (as is often laid out in the company handbook).

However, what do you do if the employee categorically denies it? They can have another test done to clear their name. A fair follicle is analysed and can show if any drugs have been present in the body for the previous 3 months. If that comes back clean they will claim unfair dismissal, and win at a tribunal, and the company will have to pay compensation running into thousands of pounds.

So coming back to having a robust testing system in place, you may wish to consider having more than one test to ensure the result is the correct one and not an assumed one. This should be clearly shown in the company handbook which all employees should read in conjunction with their contracts, and sign to say they have read and understood its contents.

Although the economy is picking up, companies can ill-afford having to pay thousands of pounds in compensation. Ensuring the correct outcome is achieved could be one way of keeping money in the business which could then be used for growing the company.


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