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14 Mar 2022

Is in-house workplace drug testing a good idea?

We are often asked to provide training to company employees to perform drug and alcohol testing in-house on their workplace colleagues.

In house drug testing

Do we offer the drug and alcohol testing training?

Unfortunately, we do not offer sample collection training for company employees. Our drug and alcohol testing service must be undertaken using samples and chain of custody procedures collected and performed by our own certified sample collection officers.

We understand that it may be tempting to train your own employees to perform in-house drug and alcohol testing, but based on our experience in the industry, this can cause a lot of issues.

What are the issues?

The main issues centre around impartiality, discrimination, and confidentiality. As a result, staff who are chosen for testing often refuse to provide a sample or grant consent based on these grounds.

In addition, the chain of custody process can be challenged if results are required as evidence, for example, at an employment tribunal. Any defence will attempt to pick holes in any sample collection procedures, especially if performed by company staff.

In terms of confidentiality, medication must be declared by any employee being tested. However, unless there is a health and safety issue, employees do not need to disclose medication they are taking to their employer. So, there is a potential conflict of interest here. You would be asking employees to disclose confidential medication to their colleagues. This could include sensitivities such as HIV medication or other personal information that may compromise an employee’s right to confidentiality.

Similarly, you must also consider the GDPR implications of a data breach. For instance, medication falls under the special category data as defined by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Furthermore, a breach involving drug an alcohol testing results could result in reputational damage for an individual.

What are the other considerations?

Finally, we provide training to our own sample collection officers as part of a rigorous certification process. This includes specialised professional indemnity insurance for the collection of biological samples. In addition, this is accompanied by well established chain of custody procedures, risk assessments and policies. All of which have been developed from many years of best practice, including accreditation to Network Rail drug and alcohol testing standards.