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Manager’s Guidance


Testing must be proportionate to the risks to health and safety.

The Council may test an employee for substance misuse in the following circumstances:-

  • ‘With cause’, where there is a reasonable suspicion by a manager concerning an employee’s possible inappropriate use of substances which is having an adverse effect on their work or has the potential to put themselves, work colleagues, service users or others at risk in terms of health and safety. See appendix 15 for details on ‘Recognising Substance Misuse’.
  • ‘Post incident’, if it is suspected that substance misuse was a contributory factor to an accident or an incident.
  • As part of a support programme. After the initial test the employee may be subject to up to two further random tests within a twelve-month period. If these tests show no evidence of use/misuse then the employee will continue to be managed as appropriate. If there is evidence of continued use/misuse, then the employee will be managed under the appropriate Council procedure.

It would be the employee’s line manager who would decide whether testing was required under the ‘with cause’ or ‘post incident’ headings above, taking HR advice where appropriate. The manager will initially have a discussion with the employee to obtain their input and explanation, before deciding to proceed with arranging a test.

Drugs tested for are as follows;

  • Alcohol,
  • Amphetamines (including Ecstasy),
  • Barbiturates,
  • Benzodiazepines,
  • Buprenorphine,
  • Cannabis,
  • Cocaine,
  • LSD,
  • Methadone,
  • Methaqualone,
  • Opiates,
  • Phencyclidine and
  • Propoxyphene.

The sample is also checked for creatinine levels which indicates if a sample is too diluted to give an accurate result.

Testing as part of a recovery programme will be carried out only by the Council’s occupational health provider following their confirmation that it is appropriate in the circumstances of the case.  This will require the prior signed consent of the employee.

 Please see here for model letter for testing agreement

Employees are expected to co-operate if they are requested to undergo a test (although they can refuse to give consent). Where an employee refuses to give consent, any subsequent decisions regarding the management of their case will be based on the information available (and the manager should make the employee aware of this so they are clear on what would occur).

Where the occupational health report indicates the use of a substance by an employee, then each case will be looked at individually based on its circumstances and a decision made by the manager on how the matter will be addressed, with HR advice taken where required.

Click here to return to the main Managing Substance Misuse page 

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