Drug Test NZ: The Most Frequently Asked Questions
25 July, 2023
Drug testing in New Zealand has become a crucial aspect in many industries, ranging from the workplace to healthcare and rehabilitation settings. However, there are many questions people have about drug tests in NZ. These include the reasons for testing, what substances are tested for, testing types, and how accurate the test is. Knowing these helps individuals understand the drug test process better and can even help them prepare for it.
Drug and alcohol use has been a long-term health and safety issue. Excessive consumption often leads to severe impairment in reasoning, senses, and motor functions. Consequently, it poses significant risks in driving, working, or operating heavy machinery. Thus, many workplaces create drug and alcohol use policies to manage their associated hazards. In this article, we will delve into the frequently asked questions about drug testing and provide insights into the process.
Why Do Employers Drug Test in NZ?
It is a common practice for some industries to drug test in NZ. It is a standard requirement for safety-critical sectors like mining, transportation, and construction. These workplaces involve operating a vehicle and heavy equipment that requires concentration, mental alertness, and physical agility. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure workers are not impaired due to drug or alcohol consumption.
Moreover, companies may conduct drug tests for a variety of reasons. The fundamental purpose is to protect their personnel and customers from potential harm due to substance-related issues. It aims to identify individuals posing risks before it leads to accidents or injuries. Additionally, it can help determine employees who are struggling with substance abuse and require help.
Minimising workplace accidents through drug testing help maintain the reputation and integrity of the company. Employers want to ensure the workforce upholds responsibility. Likewise, it helps mitigate legal risks they may face from drug-related incidents. Ultimately, it helps reduce absenteeism and employee turnover and increases employee morale and productivity.
Can Employees Refuse to Get Tested?
- Employees can refuse to get tested, but it may depend on the specific circumstances and policies of the organisation.
- Employees may deny the test if it violates their privacy rights, or they may be targeted unfairly.
- It is generally not advisable to refuse a drug test, especially if it is a part of the employment agreement.
- Employers may enforce the test for legitimate reasons, such as safety and health concerns.
- Refusal may be subject to disciplinary actions, including termination of employment.
- Employees should know their rights and responsibilities under employment and the possible consequences of non-compliance.
What Are the Different Types of Drug Tests in NZ?
Drug tests in NZ workplaces come in various forms. The most commonly used types are urine and saliva for drug screening. Urine testing is efficient for detecting a wide array of illicit drugs. It is the most preferred method due to its accuracy and cost-effectiveness. It is also relatively easy to collect and store samples.
On the other hand, saliva tests are suitable for determining recent drug use. Sample collection is less invasive, and it can be done in view of the test administrator. Thus, it reduces the likelihood of tampering. Furthermore, blood tests provide high accuracy in detecting drugs. However, it is less common due to its invasive nature and high cost.
A breath test is efficient for screening alcohol. It utilises a breathalyser to measure Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or the level of intoxication. It is a non-invasive of alcohol testing, and it can give results within seconds. Lastly, a hair test can trace past substance use for up to 90 days. However, it cannot detect recent drug use.
What Type of Drugs Are Tested For?
Drug tests look for illegal drugs and some prescription medications. It can typically detect common drugs of abuse, including marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines, phencyclidine (PCP), opioids, and benzodiazepines. Advanced urine tests can also detect drug byproducts, which stay longer in the body. It can also analyse the misuse of prescription medicines.
Urine and saliva tests can also detect ethanol. Employers may request to include alcohol in drug screening for simultaneous testing. However, many use a breathalyser instead since it is more cost-efficient. Lastly, a blood test analyses the parent drugs, which are detectable within 6 to 12 hours in the system, rather than its metabolites.
Is it Legal to Drug Test in NZ?
A drug test in NZ is legal under certain regulations and guidelines. Employers have the right to conduct drug and alcohol testing under reasonable grounds. It involves establishing a clear drug and alcohol policy outlining the conditions and procedures of testing. It is often discussed in hiring and included in the employment agreement.
Companies conduct these tests as a safety measure against accidents. Moreover, it is part of compliance with the Health and Safety Work Act in New Zealand. To implement testing, employers must obtain valid consent from employees through a signed form. Employers should also disclose the purpose of the test and inform workers of their rights.
Employers should ensure the accuracy of drug tests by adhering to the highest standards. The results should be reliable and valid for any legal action. In case of failed drug tests, employees have the right to contest the results. If the final confirmation test is positive, management should follow strict guidelines in handling the situation.
What are the Employer and Employee Obligations Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015?
The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is applicable to all New Zealand workplaces. It outlines the duties and responsibilities of employers and employees in securing a safe work environment. Employers must implement practicable measures to protect workers from potential risks and hazards, including drug and alcohol abuse.
The Act requires employers to provide clear information on their drug testing policies. They should also communicate any changes or updates in the policy. Furthermore, employees must cooperate in any testing the employer may require. They should take reasonable care to avoid harm to themselves and others.
Drug tests in NZ are safety measures to prevent accidents and maintain workplace safety. Companies conduct these tests to identify workers posing risks due to substance impairment. Hence, they can make appropriate decisions to protect the well-being of their employees. Several options are available to facilitate these tests. The common types are urine, saliva, blood, hair, and breath testing. It detects illegal drugs, alcohol, and the possible misuse of prescription medications.
Workplace drug testing is the legal right and obligation of businesses and organisations. The Health and Safety Work Act 2015 outlines the duties and responsibilities of both the employer and employees. It includes taking practicable steps to reduce preventable safety hazards. Therefore, it results in a healthy and productive environment and a stable workforce. It is essential that employers and employees understand the regulation of drug testing for the mutual benefit of both parties.