Employers in the UK need consent to undertake a drug test. This simple concept is complicated however by the fact that tribunals would normally expect employees to reasonably give their consent to undergo drug testing. In simple terms an employee must have good grounds to refuse a drug and alcohol test, be confident that the employer has requested the test irresponsibly or has been un-fair.
Because most employees are normally expected to reasonably give consent for drug & alcohol testing, they should seek professional advise from their union or line manager before refusing to give a test sample. However, pre-consent is often implicit in many contracts of employment. i.e. the contract will include a clause agreement between the employee and employer agreeing drug and alcohol screening during the period of employment.
Employers have a responsibility:
- To only drug test where it is appropriate.
- Be fair in the implementation of the drug testing procedure,
- Operate testing in a fully random fashion and not to single out particular employees for drug and alcohol testing unless this is justified by the nature of their jobs or their actions.
Workplace drug and alcohol testing is far more common in safety critical employment roles, and testing frequencies may reasonably be far more frequent. There is no guidance in UK law regarding the frequency of random testing for specific employment roles.
Employees can not be forced or made to take a drug or alcohol test, but if they refuse when the employer has good grounds to request a test, and has acted fairly and responsibly, they the employer can take disciplinary action.
Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure a safe workplace. This includes ensuring that no employee is undertaking employment under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Most employers in the UK use a saliva or oral fluid drug test kit as a first line drug screening test with instant on-site results. This is considered the best first line drug test kit option as it is minimally non invasive, easy and safe to collect in front of the individual being tested, with observed sample collection. A six panel drug screen such as the FirstSign saliva drug test kit is an ideal UK combination drug test for UK workplace screening.