Drug and alcohol testing policies that follow industry and Australian standards are more likely to be considered reasonable – and therefore enforceable – than those that depart from standard practice, according to employment lawyer, Erin Rice. The key issues to consider when drafting drug and alcohol testing policies include: what type of testing is most appropriate – for example, a urine test or a saliva test; what disciplinary actions are appropriate once a breach of policy is established; and the purpose of the regime – is the policy intended only to catch workers who are under the influence of a substance during work, or also to act as a vehicle for deterring and monitoring drug and alcohol use? Rice says drug and alcohol testing has become a widely accepted method for employers to meet safety obligations, especially in high-risk industries, but the level of intrusion into an employee’s private life can be contentious. In drafting drug and alcohol policies, it can be helpful to mention that the purpose of the policy is not only to test for impairment, but also to allow the company to monitor drug and alcohol consumption for the purposes of meeting its safety obligations more broadly.
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