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Random Drug Testing at Work and Your Rights

10 January, 2022

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More and more New Zealand employers are integrating drug and alcohol policies to manage occupational hazards. Employers seeking to reduce substance-related accidents would benefit from conducting regular workplace alcohol and drug testing. However, as an employee, drug testing may be overwhelming. Hence, knowing more about random drug testing at work and your rights can help make sure that you and your employer are on the same page. Ultimately, random testing aims to protect employees by identifying illicit drug use to minimise safety risks. Testing is reasonable for employees in safety-sensitive areas or those whose work directly impacts the safety of others. Nevertheless, before an employer can implement alcohol and drug tests, they must first consult with their employees and seek legal advice.

A drug and alcohol program ensures that the workplace is safer from substance-related accidents. However, the management should explicitly state the provisions of random drug testing at work and the rights of the employees. A common form of drug testing is through urine or saliva samples since they are quick and convenient. Additionally, alcohol tests using breathalysers can detect alcohol within the body. Testing facilities use pro-grade breathalysers such as BACtrack devices to measure blood alcohol content (BAC) accurately. A written and signed drug and alcohol policy enables employers to legally carry out random drug testing. Once the employee has signed the consent form, it indicates that they agree to the conditions of the guidelines. Hence, refusing to take a test may be subject to legal complications later. Therefore, it is vital to discuss this matter with the employer to reach a mutual agreement.

Understanding Random Drug Testing at Work and Your Rights

Employers must balance the random drug testing at work and your rights. The alcohol and drug program should also protect your privacy. In the case of a positive drug test result, a medical review officer will interview you to confirm the other factors that could affect your drug test. Consequently, you may also seek verification from a third-party laboratory if you doubt the reliability of your test results.

In some instances, employees may also question the validity of the drug test. This case is possible if they believe the testing facility did not execute the procedures correctly. Therefore, employers and the accredited laboratory must follow the New Zealand laws for conducting a workplace drug or alcohol test.

Employers also need to approach random drug testing and your rights with care. An effective drug and alcohol policy outlines the appropriate disciplinary actions and assistance for the employee. It may include going into a rehabilitation program, suspension, or, in the worst case, termination. The law on alcohol and drug testing also states that the employer should always use highly reliable services. The company providing the tests should ensure that the testing facilities meet the federal standards for testing companies.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a Testing Facility

  • Cost – different service providers may offer varying prices. Hence, conducting research on which provider is the most cost-effective is ideal.
  • Accreditation – a laboratory should meet the necessary standards for conducting testing. They must have trained collectors versed in the chain of custody procedures and equipment for accurate screening of samples.
  • Types of Tests Available – the facility should have the preferred or needed tests of the organisation.
  • Turnaround time – they should have a reasonable turnaround time for producing the reports.
  • Reputation – the provider should have a good reputation with valid reviews from previous clients to ensure their reliability.

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Importance of Random Drug Testing at Work and Your Rights

Testing is a crucial control method that helps companies ensure that workers are following the agreed-upon company policy. Nevertheless, it is still important for employers to ensure that random drug testing at work and your rights do not come into conflict. This is why they must enforce strict rules regarding the process of testing. This includes ascertaining that the rights of the employee to privacy are not being violated. They do this by ensuring that only related personnel handle the confidential information.

Furthermore, the company must ensure they are not allowing discriminatory reasons for testing. Random test participants should be selected without bias. In the same stroke, violations should be met with the same disciplinary actions, regardless of position and seniority. Doing so can improve workplace morale. It also increases the respect of the employees towards the rules.

Testing is an effective deterrent to misuse of substances. This can help prevent accidents from occurring while safeguarding the health and well-being of the workers. This also helps with productivity since it can lower the rates of absenteeism, tardiness, and turnover. Regular screening for drug abuse also aids companies in mitigating their legal liabilities and keeping costs down.

A person handing over urine samples

Testing Methods for Random Drug Testing at Work and Your Rights

Employers can use various testing methods when conducting random drug testing at work and your rights include being informed of the testing methods and their procedures. Urine screening is the most common for workplace drug testing. It uses urine samples to trace the substances consumed from one to seven days, depending on the drug.

Saliva testing is another common method used in workplaces. A key advantage of saliva tests is that the collection procedure is quick and non-invasive.  Moreover, this has a short detection period of 12 to 48 hours, which can help narrow down recent misuse of the prescription or illicit drug. In contrast, hair follicle testing offers the longest detection period of 90 days. This is particularly useful in cases where people need to acquire a history of substance use. It is also more difficult to tamper with compared to urine samples.

Lastly, blood testing is considered the most accurate testing method. This is because it directly analyses substances and their metabolites from blood samples. However, this is less common than the other tests because of its invasive collection procedure. Nevertheless, it can be significantly helpful for confirmatory tests. It is important to note that its detection window lies between 6 to 72 hours.

Conclusion

Employers must consider various factors when implementing testing into their substance use policies. The relation between random drug testing at work and your rights is inextricable. Hence, they must ensure that the testing procedures do not violate the rights of all employees. To do so, they must get informed consent before testing. They must also maintain the privacy and confidentiality of the test results.

Drug testing is crucial for protecting workplace safety and well-being. This is why companies contact saliva, urine, hair, or blood tests to identify substance misuse. It also brings many benefits, such as deterring drug abuse, improving morale and productivity, and reducing the risks of accidents. Nevertheless, they must contact an accredited and reliable service provider for testing. They should have trained collectors and use reliable equipment for accurate results.

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