Drug testing

Some consideration must be taken into account when a business or organisation decides to implement drug-testing within their policies and contracts. As stated by the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 2012) employers have a duty to have a workplace that is safe to employees and others, and this has led to the increase of employer awareness and drug-testing within employment.

Paul Jarvie, the Health and Safety Manager for Employers and Manufacturers Association has estimated that drug testing covers from 40-50% of the workforce (Collins, 2011). Many articles on the subject will provide that not only can drug users cause accidents or an unsafe environment but their drug use can also hinder their productivity for the business they work for.

Generally the criteria for drug-testing in the workplace depends on whether the employee is indirectly or directly involved in an accident, or "near miss", the area the employee works in is safety sensitive, or if the employee shows any effects of drug use. As your article states that "laws around drug testing generally allow for pre-employment screening", this is a reasonable request by employers as there should be a provision in all employment agreements that prohibit the use of drugs before and during their regular work hours, and that drug testing will be required before the commencement of employment.

Those who fail the test before the commencement of employment can be given the chance to rehabilitate themselves or the employer may decide to not hire them. Having this stipulation before being employed can deter drug-using applicants, and as stated by Graeme Smith, Sales and marketing manager for Balance Agri-Nutrients, it makes employees aware drug use would not be accepted (McPherson, 2012).

Random drug testing as mentioned in your article as "problematic" does have the safety versus privacy issues but employers should require employees to be subject to random drug testing, and not just for safety sensitive areas, as drug use impairment could cause accidents or "near misses" in any industry. But the employer must ensure that they comply with any provisions already laid out within existing legislation, including the Human Rights Act 1993, the New Zealand Bill of Rights and the Privacy Act 1993 as mentioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

Michael Cranford (Beauchamp & Bowie, 2004) believed that employers could test employees for drug use as it didn't violate the employees privacy rights boundaries set in a contract.