Employee Handbook Drug and Alcohol Policy: Aspects That Can Be Included
30 October, 2023
Substance abuse in the workplace can have serious consequences. This includes accidents and termination. Thus, workers need to be responsible for managing their intake and following protocols. Meanwhile, employers have a responsibility to create a safe and healthy work environment. One way is by implementing a clear employee handbook drug and alcohol policy. Some aspects that many companies include in their policies are expectations that they have from their people and the testing methods to use.
The effects of alcohol and illicit drugs can have a profoundly negative impact on physical, mental, and emotional health. This is why it is essential to have a well-crafted policy in place. It is an important resource for employees, employers, and their respective legal teams to address issues comprehensively and fairly. The following sections will present the legal obligations surrounding the policy, the testing procedures, and the reasons for testing.
Employee Handbook Drug and Alcohol Policy: Legal Obligation of Employer and Employee
Implementing and enforcing an employee handbook drug and alcohol policy is not only necessary for maintaining a safe workplace, but it is also a legal obligation for employers. Safety legislation requires them to address safety risks associated with the influence of alcohol and the use of illegal drugs. By clearly outlining the expectations and consequences, they can protect the well-being of their employees and minimise workplace accidents.
There should be details about the testing procedures and disciplinary action for employees who violate the policy. It is essential to address not only the consumption of alcohol but also the misuse of prescription medication or illicit substances. By establishing clear guidelines, employers can effectively handle situations that arise and provide appropriate support through employee assistance programs.
Employees are legally obligated to comply with company policy. They must not use, possess, or be under the influence of substances while on company premises or while performing any work-related activity. If an employee violates this policy, it can result in disciplinary procedures including warnings, employee counselling, or termination of employment.
Main Objectives of Implementing a Policy
Here are some of the primary objectives of having a policy regarding substance use:
- It can create a secure environment that prevents accidents and ensures the safety of everyone in the company.
- An alcohol and drug policy complies with the law. Businesses can mitigate potential legal consequences.
- A policy enables businesses to have clarity, which maintains a productive and accountable workforce.
- The policy provides opportunities for employees to seek help and make positive changes by being offered provisions for support and counselling services.
- This is to encourage employees to report incidents or concerns related to substance misuse. Consequently, they promote a culture of responsibility.
Employee Handbook Drug and Alcohol Policy: Types of Tests
There are different kinds of tests to utilise and include in an employee handbook drug and alcohol policy. Firstly, there is urine testing, which is one of the most common. This is because it is affordable and reliable. Moreover, it is relatively non-invasive. It can detect recent drug or alcohol use. Also, it can identify substances that have been used in the past few days.
Secondly, there is saliva testing. It can be more expensive than urine testing. However, it is a good option because it can detect drug use within 72 hours. This type is less invasive than others. Additionally, it is easier to collect and does not require the employee to provide a specimen in a private setting. The test is also more difficult to adulterate.
Lastly, there is breath testing with the use of a breathalyser. It measures the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in the breath of a person. This test is useful for determining if an employee is under the influence while on the job, or has been recently consuming alcohol. It is cost-effective because employers can buy a unit and use it multiple times.
What Can Be Detected
Alcohol and drug tests can detect a variety of substances, with the first one being ethanol. It is a depressant and can be a hazard. Also, testing can identify the presence of illicit drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy. They provide short-term effects such as increased energy and euphoria. However, it can also lead to long-term health issues.
Testing kits and service providers can also detect prescription medications like painkillers and sedatives. If an employee is taking these, they must ensure that they are acting by both the instructions of their healthcare practitioner and the rules and regulations outlined in the policy.
Employee Handbook Drug and Alcohol Policy: Reasons to Test
One of the reasons included in an employee handbook on drug and alcohol policy is for pre-employment screening. It is an important part of the hiring process. Employers may require potential employees to undergo a test as a condition of employment. Third-party medical professionals typically conduct the test to provide employers with an unbiased opinion regarding health status.
Another reason for businesses to administer a test is for reasonable suspicion testing. This is when employers have reasonable grounds to suspect an employee is under the influence during working hours. It typically requires observing specific behaviour or physical symptoms that indicate substance misuse. However, they must be aware of bias and make sure to carry out the test with respect for privacy and dignity.
Finally, there is random testing that companies can utilise to maintain a safe work environment. This practice is usually conducted on an annual basis rather than on a regular schedule. It can help employers identify trends in substance misuse among employees. In addition, it can help identify workers who may be at risk for developing a problem in the future.
Can a Staff Refuse a Test
While employers have a legitimate interest in maintaining a healthy work environment, employees also have rights that they must respect. There are cases where a worker may refuse to take a substance test. However, employees should be aware that their refusal may be seen as a violation of company policy and their job duties.
Workers also have the right to seek clarification and express any concerns they may have regarding the testing procedures. Employers should be open to addressing these and providing necessary information to ensure transparency. By maintaining open lines of communication, organisations can create a culture that prioritises safety and respect.
An employee handbook on drug and alcohol policy is an important document that outlines the expectations and regulations of businesses when it comes to substance use. A comprehensive policy is essential for employers to ensure a safe, productive, and healthy workplace. It can help identify workers who may pose safety risks due to the influence of substances. This allows employers to take appropriate disciplinary action. By offering assistance, they can create a culture of reasonable care and support.
There are various methods to choose from like a breathalyser test. Organisations can buy a workplace unit, while individuals can purchase a personal unit. This alcohol testing procedure allows them to track BAC levels. Owning a device gives people the chance to avoid dismissal for breaches of the policy. They can be more mindful and accountable for their drinking patterns by administering the test. This tool is especially useful for those who are in the mining or construction industry.