UK may be on verge of drug-testing ‘explosion’

Workplace
drug testing could increase dramatically in the UK and become a fact of
everyday working life, according to the findings of an independent 18-month
investigation unveiled at midday today.

The
Independent Inquiry into Drug Testing at Work, sponsored by DrugScope and the
Joseph Rowntree Foundation, predicts that the UK “could be on the cusp of an
explosion of drug testing”.

A
Mori poll conducted on behalf of the inquiry found that 78 per cent of
employers would consider drug testing if they believed that substance or
alcohol abuse was affecting staff productivity.  At the same time, 32 per cent of employers believe that drug
testing does not impact on human rights.

Ruth
Evans, chair of the inquiry, said most companies should not be allowed to test
for drugs at random.

“We
know that testing is useful in specific safety-critical and sensitive
industries. However, it is a quantum leap for employers outside of these
sectors to advocate drug testing of their staff,” she said.

The
TUC, which gave evidence to the inquiry, welcomed the report.

Brendan
Barber, TUC general secretary, said: "Drug testing is irrelevant to most
employees and companies. The TUC believes that testing is only appropriate for
staff in safety-critical posts and should be part of a comprehensive safety
strategy that includes support for staff who test positive, and the report
supports this position.”

By Daniel Thomas

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