The best way for managing drug and alcohol misuse at work is for a company to outline its approach to substance misuse with a robust drug and alcohol testing policy backed up by a comprehensive workplace testing programme.

A drug and alcohol testing policy is vital as it sets out what is and isn’t permissible to employees. It will clearly stipulate the consequences of breaking the rules or failing a drugs and/or alcohol test. This means that all members of staff know where they stand and it establishes a company ethos for everyone to adhere to. An added benefit is that the existence of formal drug and alcohol testing policy can also act as a deterrent to future employees. Discouraging substance abusers from applying for a position at your company will reduce a company’s potential for revenue loss and legal problems.

What is a drug and alcohol testing policy?

A drug and alcohol testing policy is usually an official document, which forms part of a company’s overall Health & Safety policy. It can be specified in employee contracts or could be included as part of a Staff Handbook. The drug and alcohol testing policy provides clear and concise instructions for both employer and employee on what constitutes non-compliance of policy and how substance abuse issues will be handled. It also details how members of staff with a problem can seek assistance.

A policy document should be comprehensive, specific and succinct. It is important to keep the document as clear and concise as possible, whilst covering the salient points in detail. In essence, it needs to outline the objective of the policy, specify who it applies to, detail which substances it covers, and explain what happens if employees contravene the conditions of the policy. 

The outcome of a failed drug and/or alcohol test could mean disciplinary action, dismissal or therapy. If the company has a zero-tolerance policy, just a positive test result could be seen as gross misconduct resulting in immediate dismissal. Alternatively, the employee could be suspended while there is an investigation.

The policy should encourage any employee with a substance dependency problem or other addiction to inform their Line Manager in confidence. Disciplinary action may be suspended whilst appropriate treatment and/or rehabilitation is sought. 

What is a workplace testing programme?

Your workplace drug and alcohol testing policy should include full details of your company’s testing programme. Implementing a successful testing policy will not only increase productivity, decrease costs and maintain the reputation of the company, but it will also mean that your business is operating lawfully to ensure the safety of your employees and the general public under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (among others).

There are various types of testing services to suit all forms of business that can protect employees, as well as your company.

  • Random drug and alcohol testing
  • For-cause drug and alcohol testing
  • Pre-employment testing
  • Post-rehabilitation and return to work testing

A robust drug and alcohol testing policy, backed up by a comprehensive workplace testing programme, will help contribute to the development of a positive and successful workforce. Should a problem arise, systems are in place to help the people in need. Where possible, assistance should be offered, such as counselling, treatment and education.

AlphaBiolabs can create a bespoke workplace drug and alcohol testing programme for your business and implement this policy for a fully managed solution. We also offer various workplace training courses. For information on any of our workplace testing services, call us on 0333 600 1300 or email