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Drug And Alcohol Policy Employee Handbook: What To Include

16 November, 2023

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Maintaining a safe and productive work environment is a top priority for employers. One way to address this is through a drug and alcohol policy employee handbook. A substance use policy should clearly outline the procedures the company will take regarding the use of liquor, prescription medication, and illegal drugs. It must include the objectives, reasons and grounds for testing, the types of tests they may use, and the substances they will trace.

Developing an effective policy is challenging and may require adjustments over time. Companies must consult legal professionals to ensure their policies comply with the applicable laws and regulations. Moreover, employers must ensure employee rights are not violated by the policy. By deterring substance misuse, companies may observe higher productivity and a safer workplace environment. This article will present the objectives, reasons for testing, types of tests, and the substances companies generally include in their substance abuse policies.

Drug and Alcohol Policy Employee Handbook – Objectives

The drug and alcohol policy employee handbook is a comprehensive guide for employees. It outlines the company policies and procedures related to drugs and alcohol in the workplace. This includes their expectation towards employee behaviours within company premises or during company-sponsored functions. The main objective of a substance use policy is to ensure a safe and healthy work environment. This is because substance abuse has many adverse effects on both the worker and the employer.

Another objective is to prevent accidents, injuries, and disruptions caused by substance abuse. Impaired workers cause safety risks that may affect other employees and the general public. Furthermore, they generally have poorer job performance compared to those who do not misuse substances. By identifying those with substance use disorders, employers may prevent them from causing issues.

Lastly, ensuring compliance with the relevant safety legislation is another objective of a substance abuse policy. Companies must secure the safety of workers. Thus, they must identify potential risks and establish safeguards to prevent them from occurring. Otherwise, they may face legal risks and liabilities.

Code of Conduct for Employees

These are some rules that companies may expect of the workers:

  • Workers must not be under the influence of drugs or liquor at work or while representing the company.
  • Consumption of alcohol and illicit substances is prohibited within company premises.
  • Employees must report intoxicated or impaired individuals to their manager, supervisor, or safety representative.
  • Workers must report incidents and state if they suspect someone involved is intoxicated or impaired from prohibited substances.
  • Individuals are prohibited from selling liquor and other substances within the workplace.
  • Workers must not possess illicit drugs or liquor in the workplace.

A worker falling from a high place

Drug and Alcohol Policy Employee Handbook – Reasons and Grounds for Testing

In the drug and alcohol policy employee handbook, the employers may include the reasons and grounds for testing. Regular screening is crucial for identifying and addressing any substance use issues. Moreover, it helps companies deter substance use among their workers. It helps prevent accidents, reduce liability, and promote staff well-being. An employer may also include what steps they may take if an employee refuses or fails the test.

There are several instances when companies may conduct substance use screening. Firstly, companies may test during pre-employment. This allows them to identify applicants with substance use problems and disqualify them from taking safety-critical positions. Secondly, employers may conduct random testing. This is an unannounced test wherein companies may use computer programs to randomly select participants.

Thirdly, they may require a test from individuals if they have reasonable suspicion. Some outward signs of intoxication include erratic behaviour, slurred speech, and uncoordinated movements. A significant decrease in motor and cognitive function is another cause. Lastly, companies commonly conduct screenings after accidents. This provides evidence regarding the cause of the incident. Furthermore, it informs companies what they must improve to prevent future issues.

Can an Employee Refuse a Test

In many industries, workers may face repercussions for refusing a test. However, this depends on the applicable laws and regulations. They may consult a legal professional or a safety representative to help them understand their rights.

Furthermore, it may depend on whether the employee has consented to reasonable testing as part of their employment contract. In these cases, refusing is likely seen as misconduct or a violation of the company policy. Some exceptions for specific tests and medical reasons may occur. This is also true if there is suspected discrimination. Nevertheless, it is vital to understand the company policy before refusing a test.

A person handing over a urine sample to a professional

Drug and Alcohol Policy Employee Handbook – Types of Tests to Use and Commonly Detected Substances

A drug and alcohol policy employee handbook should include the types of tests the company will use and what substance they will search for. In addition, they must outline the procedures for a positive result. Urine tests are the standard method for workplace testing. This is because the collection procedure is simple, and urine samples may hold traces of substances for up to 24 hours.

Saliva tests are commonly used during onsite testing. They also have simple and quick collection procedures, making them apt for large-scale testing. Meanwhile, breath tests using breathalysers measure Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels for up to 24 hours after the last intake. Another form of screening is the hair follicle test. This provides a history of substance use with a 90-day detection window. Lastly, blood tests are the most accurate tests. However, it uses an invasive collection procedure.

In many cases, these samples are sent to laboratories for analysis. There, lab technicians may use various panels to detect different substances. Some of the commonly traced substances include ethanol, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, opioids, and phencyclidine.

What Happens After a Positive Result

A positive or non-negative result is indicative of recent or excessive substance use. This may be classified as a violation, and the employees may face disciplinary action. However, some companies allow workers to petition for confirmatory testing to prove their innocence.

Confirmatory testing helps prevent undue consequences from false positive results. Companies may opt for further examination of previous samples using more specialised techniques. They may also conduct different tests with more accurate results, like blood tests. If the confirmatory test reports show a negative result, they may disregard the previous test. If the result remains positive, they may implement warnings, suspensions, or termination.

Conclusion

A drug and alcohol policy employee handbook helps employers communicate their expectations for employees regarding the use of alcohol and drugs. It outlines the objectives the company seeks to reach using its policies, such as compliance with laws and regulations, preventing risks of harm from accidents, and ensuring a healthy work environment. To do this, companies may conduct tests at certain periods during employment. This includes pre-employment, after accidents or near misses, under reasonable suspicion, and at random.

Employers may use different testing procedures for reliable reports of substance use by workers. Many use urine, saliva, and breath tests because of their quick and non-invasive collection procedures. Many also use hair and blood tests to obtain histories of drug and alcohol use and more accurate results. These tests can detect various substances, including ethanol, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, opioids, and phencyclidine.

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