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When Can You Drug Or Alcohol Test Your Employees?

Published June 06, 2016 (last updated February 9, 2023) - Head of Health and Safety

Employers have a responsibility under health and safety legislation to provide a safe working environment for all employees, contractors and visitors. This includes a workplace which is free from drugs and alcohol, so when is it acceptable to drug or alcohol test your employees?

When can you test employees?

If an employer is reasonably suspicious an employee is affected by drugs or alcohol while at work, it is acceptable to request the employee undertake a drug or alcohol test in accordance with the company policy. This would be deemed a reasonable management instruction, particularly if the nature of the business is high risk, for example, driving or operating heavy machinery.

Can an employee decline a drug or alcohol test?

While an employee does have the right to refuse a drug or alcohol test, this can constitute a failure to follow a reasonable management action and can result in disciplinary action.

How can you test employees?

Employers can test for drugs and alcohol via either an oral saliva test or a urine test. The urine test will pick up particular drugs which are in a person’s system for longer, therefore it will detect the recreational use of drugs rather than those used at work.

Saliva testing is a fit for work styled drug test, as it will pick up key drug components and is best used to show whether an employee is actually under the influence while at work. Both tests do have to be sent to a laboratory for final results.

Employers cannot request an employee undertake both types of testing. Meaning if the saliva test is chosen, a urine test cannot also be done.

Cultivating a drug and alcohol-free workplace culture

Policies and procedures must be in place in regards to the prohibition of drugs and alcohol in the workplace. It is not enough to have a zero tolerance policy, employers must ensure their employees are clear on the regularity of drug and alcohol testing,

Employsure can assist with any questions you may have regarding drug or alcohol testing, or implementing a policy for your workplace. Call us today on 1300 651 415 to speak to our team of specialists.

About Employsure.

Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations specialists. We take the complexity out of workplace laws to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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