Workplace drug tests are now commonly conducted across a number of industries with safety-critical environments. Lately, there has been talk of implementing workplace drug testing programs among all employees of the Australian Public Service. This can prove to be tricky, judging by the opinion given by legal expert John Wilson in an article for The Canberra Times.
Laws could get blurry with regards to drug use outside of work
Wilson quotes the Public Service Commission as saying that APS employees who misuse drugs or alcohol to the point where they endanger the safety of co-workers, suffer a dip in their performance or tarnish the reputation of the APS may be violating the APS code of conduct as prescribed by Section 13 of the Public Service Act. Though some parts of the said code are supposed to apply only to cases in connection with employment in the APS, Wilson warns that laws could get blurry when it comes to the use of illicit drugs outside of work, in their own home, on their own time.
Wilson further argues that with all the laws that cover workplace drug issues in the bureaucracy, the government does not really have the plenary power to dip its hand into every aspect of its employees’ lives, 24-7. He adds that if an APS employee fails a drug test, with the offending drug actually taken outside of work, employers can only expect a decision to penalize or sack the employee concerned to be challenged in court.
Tread carefully when it comes to workplace drug testing
We at Frontline Diagnostics have been saying all this time that drug testing at work is an area that employers—private or government—should tread carefully. For all its proven effectiveness, workplace drug testing remains a contentious topic, especially when the issue of personal privacy is brought up. It is always best to have every word of your drug and alcohol testing policies be thoroughly picked by legal counsel.
Click here to read the article in full.