Unions demand action over work drugs tests

Unions
are demanding Government action on drug testing, claiming over-zealous
employers are increasingly testing staff in an unjustified and degrading
manner.

A
new TUC report said the law doesn’t give staff sufficient protection against
the increasing use of drink and drug testing.

It
claimed that testing has doubled over the past decade. One in eight companies
now test staff for drugs and four in five bosses would be prepared to test
their employees if they felt productivity was at stake.

The
Testing Times report criticises employer enthusiasm for drug and alcohol
testing at work, saying it is an intrusive and unproven science.

Unions
claim workplace drug testing creates a range of problems, from the ‘chain of
custody’ of samples, to the use of tests to harass ‘troublesome’ staff.

Brendan
Barber, TUC general secretary, said: "A policy for identifying symptoms
and a programme for dealing with an 
employee’s drug and drink problems is far more effective than random
testing."

But
many HR directors disagree. Steven Taylor, HR director at Anglia Railways, said
that testing is well established and a clear, basic safety requirement in the
railway industry.

All
Anglia Railways staff are subject to random tests. The company has been testing
for more than five years, and Taylor said he can count the number of positive
tests on one hand.

"[This
is] not something that should be mandated by statute," he said.
"Common sense should predict how it is done."

Keith
Luxon, HR policy and reward manager at the Laurel Pub Company, said managers
that know how to spot drug use are essential in the industry. "Our line
managers are very clued up, so we don’t need random drug testing," he
said.

It
is estimated that the absence caused by excessive drinking costs business more
than £2bn a year, while drug-related absenteeism costs £800m.

By
Quentin Reade

www.hazards.org/testingtimes

Comments are closed.