History of Drug Testing in UK: How it Started & Timeline of Important Events about Workplace Drug Testing
Workplace drug testing is something that is a much-debated topic especially in the UK. Up until today, there is really no clear legislation concerning this particular issue. Many union members are opposed to giving companies, their employers, the power to conduct drug screening in the workplace, whether it is random or scheduled.
Many drug companies have claimed that more and more businesses are adapting drug screening as a protocol in their workplaces. But there is no substantial evidence to really validate such claims.
Here’s a look at some important legislation with regards to workplace drug testing in the UK:
- Health & Safety at Work Act of 1974
The HASAW is one of the pioneer legislations that promote the safety and wellness of employees in the workplace. A certain part of the legislation specifically states that employees have the right to ensue that their workplaces are free from influence of drug or alcohol.
This paved the way for the idea of workplace drug testing in the UK. But up until today, it is not a custom to let go of an employee just because he was found to be positive of any harmful substance.
- 1998 Human Rights Act
The part of the legislation where it talks about a person’s right to privacy is significant to the advancement of drug screening in the workplace. Because this law basically covers everyone, employees, therefore, have the right to deny their employees’ request for any kinds of drug screening, whatsoever.
Under this law, employers also do not have the right to dismiss an employee who was found in possession of an illegal substance outside the workplace.
- Employment Practices Data Protection Code
This code specifically states that aside from safety reasons, very few employers will be justified if they conduct workplace drug testing for any other reason. It further states that various industries and businesses pose varying standards of safety therefore it would be much harder for employers to conduct even scheduled drug screening for their employees.
- The 2004 Independent Inquiry into Drug Testing at Work
This inquiry concluded that laws in relation with drug screenings in the workplace are unclear and therefore called on the UK government to pass laws that would guarantee the safety of workers.
It also further supported the notion that any employers who force employees into workplace drug tests are essentially violating the provisions of the 1998 Human Rights Act.
The fight for workplace drug testing is still up in the air until now. Many unions are opposed to giving their employers the power to conduct drug screening. Unless specifically stated in an employee’s contract and given that he has consented to it, then it shall remain that drug tests be not required for those who are employed in the UK.
This Article is written by Lena Butler, contributor of Health & Drug Testing Information Center.