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Testing for Drug and Alcohol Misuse in the UK

Testing for Drug and Alcohol Misuse in the U.K.

The practice of testing for drug and alcohol misuse in the U.K. has grown in the past decade. Employers have learned that investing in such testing is important. It is a good way to deter employees from taking part in such activities. It is also a great way to weed out those that they are thinking to hire if they can’t successfully pass a drug and alcohol test before they are given the job.  UK Drugs Testing: Keith RichardsUltimately, the goal is to reduce risk of injury, hazards, lost time to employees and to property. 

For more in-depth info on drugs testing procedures see here: How to Pass

In the U.K., the employer must have consent.  If you refuse to take a drug test that an employer or potential employer is asking for, you are legally within your rights to do so. However, be warned that most employers will fire you on the spot if you refuse. Likewise, most potential employers will also withdraw any job offer if you refuse to take the drug test. In the U.K., any business where the risk of personal or public safety is on the line then they have the right to request a drug test.

The Human Rights Act of 1998 tries to strike a balance between the right to do your own thing on your own time with the company’s right (and your co-workers right) to a safe and secure work environment.

Transportation Industry
Any employees in the U.K. that take part in the transportation sector will likely be subjected to the drug and alcohol test. This includes hauling people or hauling goods. It includes working in train yards, with boats, and even operating buses. It also pertains to truck driving for companies as well as those that are independent owner operators. They typically have to belong to a drug pool, and they can be randomly called to take a test.

Construction Industry
There is plenty of risk in construction, and in the U.K. those that operate such businesses want to make sure all precautions are taken. They want to make sure that there aren’t any additional risks that could get them sued, that could cause injuries, or take lives. There are plenty of stipulations in place for construction work. If you plan to take part in such a job, you should be prepared to take a drug and alcohol test at any time.

There are plenty of types of industries in the U.K, and they offer lots of items that are used locally as well as exported. Even though most of the work is routine, it can be risky. There are heavy items of machinery, human error, and more to think about. This type of industry definitely wants to make safety a huge priority. Otherwise, there are legally ramifications that they have to face. This is another type of job in the U.K. where you should plan to be ready for a drug test request at any time.

Additionally, if you report being hurt on the job, or are involved in an industrial accident of any kind, a ‘post-accident’ drug test is mandatory. 

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Additional Info:
Drug Testing at Work in UK
Workplace Drugs Testing Legalities- United Kingdom

2 Responses to “Testing for Drug and Alcohol Misuse in the UK”

  1. David Jerczak says:

    Hi Vicki –

    Thanks for chiming in.

    I noticed some of the same news lately -some survey by a drugs testing company.
    I also read in the news that there is an increase in adoption of new drugs/alcohol policies that include an Employee Assistance Programme.
    The EAP provides employee support and education, as well as a drug/alcohol testing policy.

    Over time the EAP has been shown to lower the level of substance abuse in the workplace here in the U.S.

    Dave J

  2. Victoria Bryan says:

    Hello –

    I noticed in the news lately about the high number of absences due to alcohol here in the UK -something like 3-5% on any given day.

    Not to mention the ones who should stay home because they’re not worth much at work anyway. They’re either hung over or sneaking a nip in the closet, returning to their desk and trying to act interested.

    If the drugs testing policies can weed out the dead wood, I’m all for it.


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