Workplace & Employment Drug & Alcohol Testing Kits ~ Information for Employers
Information for employers who are using onsite drug & alcohol testing kits for workplace drug testing
Drugs in the UK workplace
Drug use is an increasing problem for UK employers. Evidence suggests the risks from employees attending work under the influence of both drugs and alcohol have increased in the last 10 years. Drugs have multiple effects on the brain and the body, often lasting for long after the drug is consumed, and this can affect an employee's performance at work, even if the misuse takes place outside the place of work.
Employers have a duty to ensure a safe workplace, as far as is reasonably possible, this should include measures to ensure that their employees are not a danger to other employees or the general public, as a consequence of illicit drugs or alcohol while working.
If you are an employer wanting to test staff for drugs of abuse, consent has to be given. If your contract of employment has no drug and alcohol testing clause, you may still approach any employee and request they provide a sample for drug and alcohol testing, at any time. They can refuse.
Drug and alcohol testing policy
It is recommended that you have a contract clause as a part of the basic employment contract for all staff, covering random workplace drug and alcohol testing, with a clear statement of the companies drug and alcohol policy, making it clear that attending the workplace under the influence of drugs and alcohol is unacceptable.
Having a policy lets you clearly communicate to your employees your position on drug misuse together with your expectations of them regarding drugs and alcohol use during their period of employment.
Once agreed this forms a basic consent agreement for the employee. All staff with such a contract may be subject to random drug tests and have agreed that the use of drugs in the workplace, or being under the influence of drugs in the workplace, is a dismissible offense.
It is also important to operate the drug testing program in a fair and appropriate fashion and keep up to date on any introduced government legislation or guidance.
What drugs do I need to test for?
On-site testing is easy to do in-house, saves money and time and will quickly screen out all your negative results allowing your staff to get back to work with the minimum of disruption.
We recommend a minimum combination drug test for the following 5 drug groups listed below. This set forms the baseline for most screening, on to which additional drug groups can be added if required. If you are aware of a specific issue with a single drug, we would still recommend screening for these 5 drug groups to ensure you have undertaken a comprehensive screen. Additional drugs can be added which are either specified contractually or known to be locally available and problematic in the demographic being tested
The base 5 drug groups that you should test for are:
- + Methamphetamine or Methadone or Benzo's
- Swap Benzodiazepine for Methamphetamine screening for safety-critical workplace screening where sedation risk is greater. Consider adding Methadone if there is a local problem known or your drivers are subject to roadside drug tests.
Have a look at our workplace drug testing kits section on our website. All the drug testing kits listed in this section will comply with HSE expectations for employment and pre-employment drug test screening. We offer a large range of combinations, up to 12 drugs if required, but most employers don't need to screen 12 drug groups, 5 or 6 is considered best practice and will cover the majority of what you would normally detect.
If you have not drug tested before, start with the workplace 7 drug cup drug test for urine or the UKDT 6 drug + alcohol saliva drug test.
Exceptions to the above advice include transport, construction industry and the railways (line side certification) where more extensive screening for 10 or 11 drug groups is the norm.
Most employers prefer saliva-based first line drug tests
Increasingly UK employers opt for a saliva drug testing kit for their first line screening test. This is fine, but urine testing still offers longer detection.
When considering oral fluids or saliva drug test kits, versus other drug testing methods consider the following points:
- No urine collections (consider integrated urine cup tests as a solution)
- Observed collections without privacy issues
- Can be performed on-site anytime and anywhere with immediate results
- More-invasive (saliva testing normally involves swabs on sticks into the mouth)
- Saliva Eliminates the need for same-gender sample collections/observation
- Saliva Testing integrity (difficult to adulterate as directly observed)
- Results available in 10 minutes (same as urine)
- No additional equipment (same as urine)
- No complicated operator training required for either saliva or urine
- Saliva tests detect drugs for much shorter times (windows) after use, they may detect recent drug use slightly faster than comparable urine tests
What to do after a positive workplace drug test result
With every brand or type of instant near patient drug testing kit you use, all non-negative results need to be confirmed. Positive results should be cross-referenced with the manufacturer's data sheet for legally consumed medications and pharmacy medicines.
If the employee is undertaking a safety critical role they should not be allowed to continue work until the result is checked. No disciplinary action should be taken until the confirmation is completed, so the normal action is to suspend them on full pay, pending further investigations.
Confirm all non-negative drug test results with a lab drug test
The ultimate confirmation test is a laboratory gas chromatography/mass spectrometry drug test, often abbreviated to GC/MS test of the original sample., performed in an accredited laboratory. Accreditation ensures ongoing quality control of the test results. The samples sent, almost always urine, need to be collected using a full chain of custody system and documentation to allow the reported certificate of results to be admissible evidentially in a tribunal or disciplinary proceedings. By using a full chain of custody confirmation system, employers protect themselves from legal challenges following disciplinary proceedings.
Employers should always consider instant drug tests range between 97-99% accurate compared to GC/MS, but these drug tests will not differentiate between metabolite, legally prescribed and consumed drugs (often opiates) and none claim 100% accuracy.
Keep good records
Follow a simple procedure and keep good, clear records.
We have provided a simple template form for you to edit and use.