Safety at work should always be a priority. If an employer reasonably suspects an employee is unfit for duty or under the influence of drugs, they should act immediately and direct the employee to stop work and perform a drug test in accordance with their own drug and alcohol policy.
Subject to the test results and the relevant policy, the employee may return to work where it is safe for them to do so, or be suspended from duty until further testing is completed and they are cleared as fit for work. In general, where an employee is deemed unfit for work due to the effects of drugs and/ or alcohol, they may access any accrued personal leave during this time.
Well drafted policies can greatly assist employers to navigate this difficult area. In instances where termination occurs, a robust drug and alcohol policy that is well communicated and enforced consistently will support the employers case should an unfair dismissal claim arise.
Although drug and alcohol polices vary widely from employer to employer; It is considered best practice (as encouraged in recent cases before the Fair Work Commission) that policies incorporate an element of education and rehabilitation rather than solely focusing on discipline and dismissal.
►Need help managing drug and alcohol issues in your workplace? Talk to CCI’s Employee Relations Advice Centre today on (08) 9365 7660 for advice.