Data code could stop companies testing for drugs

Draft
regulations included in the Data Protection code of practice on drug testing
could restrict companies from checking employees for illegal substances in the
future.

The
code, which is expected to come into force in mid-April, recommends that
employers should only use drug testing if it can be justified on safety
grounds. This “justification on safety grounds” has yet to be clarified.

Mike
Goodie, HR director of rail company GNER, said, “Employers have a right to
expect that their employees are not intoxicated in any way when they are
working.

“Because
of the industry we are in, we test all of our staff to demonstrate the
standards that we expect across the company.”

But
Cynthia Atwell, occupational health consultant and former HSE member, believes
there are employers who should be allowed to test for drugs who do not have an
obvious safety issue.

She
said, “There are certain jobs where the wrong push of a button or a wrong sum
could cost companies thousands of pounds – their employers would be justified
in testing them.

“If
the employee caused an accident where someone was killed or injured, the
employer would be liable under the Health and Safety at Work Act because
managers have a duty of care to oversee the health and safety of others.”

Comments are closed.