How To Implement Random Drug Testing In The Workplace

  • HR Policies Documentation
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Read our article: 'How To Implement Random Drug Testing In The Workplace'. Contact us today for more information about our Employment Law, Health & Safety, and HR services.

It is becoming more common for employers to perform drug tests on their employees, especially when jobs include safety critical decisions (e.g. pilots, drivers, some machinery operators, etc). Employers have a duty of care towards the safety of their employees and therefore need to assess the potential risks posed by perhaps an individual who is working whilst under the influence of drugs.

Although there is no legislation which states that employers have the right to test employees for drug use, it is clearly recognised that certain job roles require this type of monitoring and tests are needed.

It is important that employers have a written policy relating to the use of illegal substances in their organisation which, amongst other things, outlines the way in which employees will be dealt with should a drugs test be carried out.

Many employers find that random drug tests are a major deterrent of drug use due to the unpredictable instances at which they can be carried out. Random tests are just that – not triggered by any particular event or suspicion, picking anyone from a group. It is important to maintain the unsystematic nature of random tests. Unfairly singling someone out can lead to claims of discrimination.

Many employees will understand the requirement for a drug test because of the nature of their work, and look upon it as part and parcel of the job. There may, however, be a few who do not want to be tested. You cannot force an employee to be tested but in the event that you are met with refusal, you should not automatically assume guilt. Where it is a contractual obligation to provide a sample you can deal with the refusal via your organisation’s disciplinary procedure.

Tests can be done in various ways, using urine, blood, hair, saliva, etc. Where tests are carried out, they should always be done in a way that assures the dignity and confidentiality of the employee is kept in tact. Tests should be carried out in a private location, by a member of the same sex as the employee being tested. Consider any requests by the employee to have a witness present.

You should make employees aware that it will be considered a disciplinary offence if they are caught deliberately attempting to falsify results.

If a test is returned with a positive result, you should allow the employee the opportunity to offer an explanation. An employee taking medication prescribed by a doctor can sometimes give a positive result in a drugs test so it is important you determine the source of the result.

Where the result is evidence of drug taking, you should deal with the employee through your usual disciplinary procedure and, in circumstances where this is warranted, dismiss the employee.

Remember, our advice service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. An adviser will always be ready and waiting to deal with any issue. Just call us on 0844 892 2772.


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

Related articles

  • paternity leave act passed


    Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Act 2024 passed before Parliament went into recess

    The sudden announcement of a general election to be held on 4 July left only a few days before Parliament closed down and gave the Government the problem of which items of legislation to quickly push through the adoption process.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Employment Contract
  • potential tax rise


    Sunak's £2k tax rise jibe 'absolute garbage' says Starmer

    Taxes were on the agenda for the Prime Minister as he repeated ‘I don’t want to raise your taxes to pay for that’ at the first TV debate as he accused Starmer of targeting wealthy to fund Labour policies

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • Pay & Benefits
  • labour updated manifesto


    Labour releases updated manifesto

    Ahead of the General Election on Thursday 4 July 2024, the Labour Party has released an updated manifesto, ‘Labour’s plan to make work pay – delivering a new deal for working people’.

    Peninsula TeamPeninsula Team
    • HR Policies Documentation
Back to resource hub

Try Brainbox for free today

When AI meets 40 years of Peninsula expertise... you get instant, expert answers to your HR and Health & Safety questions

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.