Some employers, particularly those in manufacturing and mining, include drug and alcohol tests as part of their workplace health and safety policy including pre-work testing and “on the spot” tests. Whether you have to take these tests will be written into your contract.
Is it legal for employers to drug test their workers?
It is legal to test employees for drug and alcohol use with each workplace needing to develop an alcohol and other drug use at work policy that takes workplace safety issues into account. Workcover recommends that testing policies be implemented only as part of a comprehensive policy so it acts as a deterrent rather than a mechanism to “catch people out”. Limitations to workplace drug and alcohol testing include:
A positive test is not in itself evidence of impairment
If you refuse to be tested it cannot be presumed you are impaired unless this is specified by legislation or your employment contract. Test accuracy can vary and results can be challenged legally
What if you test positive?
Employers must have a procedure for dealing with positive results to drug and alcohol tests. These guidelines are set down by the Fair Work Commission and through legal precedents, that is, rulings from past court cases.
If you test positive, the organisation needs to discuss it with you and prepare a report on what actions are to be taken. In most cases, if you test positive you will receive formal counselling. If you have a repeat positive tests you will enter into a procedure that may result in termination of employment.