Having a clear company policy over drug testing in the workplace is key, as a recent case involving an employee who refused to take one, and was subsequently sacked, shows.
An Australian worker’s filing for unfair dismissal over refusal to take a urine test has been rejected by The Fair Work Commission (FWC).
Raymond Briggs, who began initial employment at AWH in 2011, refused to take the urine test last year due to his concerns about confusing elements in the drug testing policy of the company.
As outlined in a statement from Michael Sing Lawyers, Briggs stated that the company’s policy said urine testing was done to determine if the employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but this contradicted the Australian Standard 4308 – a guideline for workplace drug testing
- which states that urine testing cannot be used to determine if an employee is “fit to work”.
Upon his concerns being ignored, Briggs requested he do a saliva-swab test instead, which he was denied. He was then asked to write a statement, outlining his reasons for refusal.
His statement outlined the same concerns, and he was then terminated. Briggs later took the matter to the FWC.
The FWC ruled that the policy of AWH had been made clear to Briggs. The policy was also lawful, and Brigg’s dismissal was justified.
The decision highlights the controversial topic of urine and saliva testing, and the necessity of employers to clearly outline their drug testing policies.
The primary concern surrounding urine testing is that it may reveal “historic drug use” – displaying evidence of drug and alcohol intake from when the employee was not at work. Not only do some feel this is in violation of their privacy, but it may give results that do not actually affect the workplace, but could still influence employers.
As such, saliva testing – which gives results indicative of more immediate drug-use – has become the standard used by many employers.
In defence of urine testing, the obligation of an employer to ensure a safe workplace at all times may extend to the necessity for all workers to have any drugs or alcohol completely out of their systems.
It is argued that saliva testing would be sufficient, as it would provide a positive result if the drug was likely to still be affecting the mental or physical state of the employee.
To read more on the differences between urine and saliva tests, as well as other information on drug and alcohol testing, click here.
Should AWH have done a saliva test on Briggs? How do you feel about drug and alcohol testing in the workplace?