The focus on Drug and Alcohol policies and testing within the workplace will not be going away anytime soon.  As explored in the latest issue of ACAPMAg and in previous HR Highlights, this area, while necessary, is fraught with danger from a HR perspective.

Two of the main areas of contention are; testing methodologies and the concept of ‘fit to work’.  This week’s HR Highlight will explore these issues.

Saliva v Urine

A funny sentence to type, but a concept that has caused no small amount of angst for employers, employees, testing agencies and regulators.

Philip Collins, of the Australian Drug Foundation, explains that both methods are equally valid the urine test tends to show up drug usage that may not be recent, due to the way the body metabolises the drugs.

Collins clarifies that urine testing then is for “detecting recreational use, as opposed to being fit for work.”  By contrast the saliva test will show up recent drug use, that is more likely to be impacting fitness for work.

Fit for Work

The type of test, thresholds, how to handle positive indications, all hinge on the question of ‘why does the business need to know?’.

There is an ongoing argument that the business has no right to pry into the personal life of their employees, provided that it does not impinge on their ability to discharge their duties safely.  This is an argument that will continue.

What is important for the business to understand is that the testing methods and handling procedures should focus on a safety outcome.

Recent cases before the Commission have confirmed that positive drug tests, even after safety incidents have occurred, will not always warrant disciplinary action by the employer, the concept of ‘fitness to work on the day’ will prevail, and businesses Drug & Alcohol policies and procedures must reflect that.

Here to Help

ACAPMA Workplace Relations Professionals are available to assist members on 1300 160 270 or you can email elishar@acapma.com.au. ACAPMA members can access resources and can call on the advice and support of the ACAPMAlliance Workplace Relations Professionals on 1300 160 270.

HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation by  calling 1300 160 270 and speaking to one of ACAPMA Workplace Relations Professionals it’s free for members. ACAPMA membership is affordable at only $770 per year for a single site, which represents great value with sites gaining HR advice support and representation as well as a raft of other benefits and discounts. Learn more about ACAPMA membership here