This blog puts the spotlight on the Health & Safety Executive's guidance on three very important points for both private and public sector employers: Screening & Testing Your Employees For Drugs & Alcohol; Understanding the Law; and Supporting Members of Staff Who Have a Drug or Alcohol Issue. - These aspects are invaluable for all those who are running companies, organisations, educational institutions, healthcare centres, and more. Coupled with input from the UK's and Ireland's No 1 non-invasive, highly accurate, rapid, Drug & Alcohol Testing provider, Drug Testing Kits UK, this guidance is put forward in a clear and concise way, thereby ensuring that you can easily screen and test your employees, while simultaneously staying abreast of the latest regulations and developments.

Screening & Testing Your Employees For Drugs & Alcohol

 A substantial number of employers across the UK and Southern Ireland have taken the important precaution of implementing screening as part of their Drug and Alcohol Policy. We are proud to say that Drug Testing UK fulfils many of these drug and alcohol screening requisites; on top of which, we offer FREE guidance on drawing up an appropriate Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy for your employees to sign.

Do you regularly screen your staff for drug and alcohol use? If the answer is no, then you are likely to want to change this scenario as soon as possible. As the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) notes: 

"There may be a case for screening, particularly in certain jobs (for example employees who make safety-critical decisions like drivers, & and some machinery operators). In jobs like these, the misuse of drugs or alcohol could have disastrous effects for the employee, colleagues, members of the public & the environment" [1]. However, even employees who do not hold such positions, can cause serious issues when they are under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. This can be highly detrimental to the company's or organisation's reputation, & in some instances, can lead to criminal prosecution and civil law suits which run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, and bankruptcy 

Points to Consider 

It is crucial to be mindful that:

  • Members of staff have to consent to drug and alcohol screening for both legal and practical reasons

  • When introduced, screening your employees for drug and alcohol misuse, should form part of your company's/organisation's general health and safety policy

  • Drug Testing Kits UK recommends that screening should be conducted by an appointed member/s of staff. Moreover, the tests: "must be carried out properly [and according to the simple to follow instructions], to thus ensuring that the samples cannot be contaminated or tampered with, and that the analysis are accurate

  • Of note: members of staff cannot be forced to take a drug or alcohol test; however, if an employer has good grounds for testing, and the employee declines, then the latter could face disciplinary action [1]

Understanding the Law 

As the Health & Safety Executive notes:

"You have a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act, to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety & welfare of your employees. Employees must also take reasonable care of themselves, & anyone who could be affected by their work.

There is up-to-date information on laws, such as the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, and the Road Traffic Act 1988, which apply to drug and alcohol misuse. Frank also has useful information on the law" [1].

Supporting Members of Staff Who Have a Drug or Alcohol Issue

Both the HSE and our professional team at Drug Testing Kits UK, recommend that: as soon as you have a policy on drug and alcohol abuse/misuse in your workplace, it is important to ensure that:

  • Point 1: all your members of staff are familiar with the said policy

  • Point 2: All your employees understand that your HR department or an assigned supervisor or manager, can offer support

Note: if you already have a Drug and Alcohol Policy in place, and have not fulfilled these two points, then you can implement them as soon as possible.

Some of the small and medium business employers who regularly conduct multi-panel drug and alcohol tests using our latest premium Drug Testing Kits UK, often ask our CX team about the second point. - This is because they feel that this support is an overwhelming task, and they do not have the necessary resources. However, they are soon reassured that this process can be as easy as providing printed information about supportive organisations that they can link up with (and some of these may be close to their location), .

Awareness & Training 

Again, both the Health & Safety Executive and Drug Testing Kits UK, know that:

"You could increase awareness by including an explanation of the drug & alcohol misuse policy in your induction process for all new employees" [1]

Moreover, you could brief your supervisors and managers, so that they are conversant with:

  • Recognising the signs and symptoms of illegal drug or alcohol misuse

  • Your company's/organisation's regulations on the misuse of drugs and alcohol

  • What they should do if they think that a member of staff is misusing alcohol or drugs

  • The action they should take if an employee confides in them about a drug or alcohol issue [1]

Maintaining Confidentiality

Members of staff who are suffering from an alcohol or drug issue, are more likely to ask for help, if they are confident that their problem will be handled confidentially, discreetly, and in a sensitive manner [1]. It is important that senior staff are mindful of the fact that:

 "Drug & alcohol dependence are recognised medical problems. Someone who is misusing drugs or alcohol has the same rights to confidentiality & support as they would if they had any other medical or psychological condition" [1]



 [1]. Health & Safety Executive (2023). "Managing Drug and Alcohol Misuse at Work."