A refusal to undergo a random drug /alcohol test at work usually carries with it an obvious assumption that the employee concerned has something to hide.
Not always apparently! We are seeing an increasing trend of employees refusing to undergo tests on the basis of a personally held belief that such tests are a breach of an individual’s right to privacy and freedom to enjoy life. Yeah right, we hear you thinking.
The right of an employer to insist that such a test be taken depends on a number of factors particularly if a random testing regime has been introduced post that individual being hired…those factors include the wording and clarity of any policy, how it was introduced, the process of consultation and communication, understanding and familiarisation of the consequences of any refusal, and whether the individual works in a role or work area that clearly fits the conditions of being ‘ safety sensitive’.
What is more curious is the attitude from some quarters of the community as to why there should be any difference between workplace testing and random breath testing on our roads and even dope testing in sport. We continue to observe opposition from some Unions and employee representatives to the whole notion of random testing in the workplace. In many cases this seems to be at odds with the prevailing perception that the rights (in this case the right to expect an employer to take all reasonable steps to ensure a safe workplace) of a collective or a group have precedence over the rights of an individual.
We see this as being contradictory to the legal obligations on an employer to provide a safe working environment…in this case it is our view that the rights of an individual in this area are subservient to the rights of the rest of the workforce to expect to go home at the end of work in at least the same condition as they arrived.
There is little doubt that Companies that gain the reputation of having a stringent Health and Safety policy which includes a regime of drug testing are avoided by that section of the workforce who will attempt to test the rules.
But we believe that refusals to abide by a random testing process in the workplace should be treated as seriously as a refusal to take a random breath test at a checkpoint or dope test before or after a sports contest.
So tell us your views…. should an individual have the right to refuse a request for a random drug test in the workplace assuming a well communicated policy and process has been followed?