Training own staff for Drug Testing?

Should you train your own staff to perform drug and alcohol testing?

Based on our experience operating within many different industries, this practice can cause a lot of issues. The main problems centre around impartiality, discrimination and confidentiality. As a result, staff who are under suspicion often refuse to provide a sample or consent based on these grounds.

In addition, maintaining chain of custody over the samples can be challenged if results are required as evidence at employment tribunals. In reality, a defence will normally attempt to pick holes in any collection procedures, especially if performed by company staff.

Also, many organisations who perform drug testing in-house, utilise ‘point of care’ drug screening. These are instant drug screening devices. However, we consider laboratory drug testing as best practice. The reason for this is because ‘point of care’ saliva or urine testing, can give false positive/negative results. As a result, this puts stress on the individuals being tested. Particularly if interactions occur due to medication.

In addition, we believe that some organisation utilise point of care screening only in ‘for-cause’ circumstances. This is not a good idea, as instant screening does not produce legally defensible results.


Confidentiality in drug testing

In terms of confidentiality, unless there is a health and safety issue, employees do not need to disclose medication they are taking to their employer. During the collection of samples for a drug test, our collection officers ask for any medication that has been taken in the last 14 days. Issues arise if employees disclose confidential medication to their colleagues. Particularly if disclosing sensitive information such as HIV medication.

Finally, you would also need to consider the GDPR implications of a data breach. For instance, medication falls under the special category data as defined by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Being registered with the ICO, all of our relevant policies and procedures comply with current regulations. Of course, our policies and procedures are specific to our business activities – drug and alcohol testing. In addition, our professional indemnity insurance is specific to our own business activities. This is something you would need to ensure you were covered on if you decided to have your own staff perform drug testing in-house.

So, there are lots of things to consider. Our advice we be to speak to us first. We do not offer training or supply of kits. But, we can talk you through the potential pitfalls.