Drug and Alcohol Screening in the Workplace in Australia

Employers are obliged under Work Health and Safety laws to provide a safe working environment for staff, visitors and contractors. Also, employees have a responsibility to take reasonable care of their health and safety and those around them. By following the rules which protect individuals in the work environment, your organization’s drug and alcohol screening policy is an appropriate solution for managing drugs and alcohol in your workplace.

Some industries and professions have governing laws around drugs and alcohol in the workplace; however, some private employers in Australia have a bit more freedom to create and specify the conditions of their drug and alcohol policies.

Here are some tips for policy writing on drug and alcohol in the workplace:

  • If employees are testing for drugs or alcohol, the policy states how and when the test can be applied.
  • The results of the same failure in the drug and alcohol test should be transparent and fair, taking into account the employee’s privacy and rights.
  • Employees should be aware of the policy content and their responsibilities and understand the consequences of violating the policy.
  • Consider other termination options, including sick leave, or refer an employee to counselling or rehabilitation services if needed.
  • Workplaces, where alcohol is provided to employees must clearly state what behaviour could constitute a policy violation if alcohol consumption is permitted or encouraged.

Drug and alcohol screening is not about punishing workers. It can be about:

  • Correcting unsafe behaviours
  • Improving your team’s health
  • Increasing productivity
  • Intervening before an accident happens

A formal alcohol and drugs policy make it clear to all workers what behaviour is acceptable around drugs and alcohol.

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