Employers often undertake workplace drug testing for health and safety reasons, particularly in safety-critical jobs like road-side workers or crane operators and the practice has increased dramatically in the UK over recent years.
If an employer intends to initiate workplace drug testing, they should review the contacts of employment and the company policy on testing. This should outline how and when they can conduct tests — and what happens if an employee fails a test.
If there is no mention on drug testing in contracts or policies then the employer should not proceed with any drug testing until the policy is in place and staff are aware of it.
There is no legal requirement for an employer to provide advance notice of testing, and random testing may be implemented if this is covered by a company drug testing policy.
If an employer has reasonable grounds to test employees (e.g., because of the nature of the work) and employs random testing, selection must be genuinely random – this can be handled by our team to avoid allegations of persecution or unfair discrimination.
Employers must obtain informed consent before they perform a drug test. This means they must explain the purpose of the test and have employee agreement (preferably in writing) before taking a sample.
The results of company drug tests should remain confidential, even if an employee fails a test.
A Medical Review Officer (MRO) offers an expert review of positive drug test results.
In the case of a positive laboratory result, the MRO must determine whether this indicates the use of drugs which would be contrary to a company’s rules, or if there may be a legitimate explanation for the use of the indicated substances.
The medical review process protects companies and individuals from wrongful accusations when legitimate medications cause a positive result. Not only are wrongful accusations distressing for the individual but these can also lead to legal action against the employer and potentially damaging, adverse publicity.
An MRO acts as an advocate for the accuracy and integrity of the drug testing process. MROs provide quality assurance review of the drug testing process and determining if there is a legitimate medical explanation for laboratory confirmed positive, adulterated, substituted and invalid drug test results.
Therefore we would strongly advise all clients testing their workforce to ensure the company has a medical review process in place.