STORM BREWS OVER FIRMS' PROPOSED NEW DRUG POLICY

TESTING PLANS 'BREACH HUMAN RIGHTS'

Pubdate: Friday 10 August 2001

Author Jeremy Price

Source: Colchester Evening Gazette (UK)

Copyright: 2000, Quicksilver Media

Contact: gazette_postbag@essex-news.co.uk

Address: 43-44 North Hill, Colchester, Essex CO1 1TZ

Fax: 01206 508295

Website: http://www.thisisessex.co.uk/

 

STORM BREWS OVER FIRMS' PROPOSED NEW DRUG POLICY

TESTING PLANS 'BREACH HUMAN RIGHTS'

 

PLANS by firms to test employees for alcohol or drag abuse have come under heavy fire.

Some firms intend to carry out tests to crack down on problems such an accidents and absenteeism, a report has revealed.

But the implications for workers and limitations of the tests themselves. have been criticised by the Braintree-based spokesman for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance.

Don Barnard said: -These tests fail on their own terms. No drug test can check for impairment."

He believes random testing would be against human rights and advised employees and trade unions to look very closely at decisions being made.

"Some 36 per cent of known drag users are in employment," he said.

UNSAFE

"It wouldn't be legal to dismiss someone because they had tested positive because the tests themselves are known to be unsafe.

"People, especially cannabis users, must be aware that they could lose their job or driving licence or whatever because of an unsafe test"

Research showed an increasing number of problems at work caused by alcohol and drug use cost British industry 2.8 billion a year.

Nationally, three out of four firms surveyed said staff had been absent from work in the past year because of alcohol abuse, while three out of 10 reported workers had stayed home to recover from drug-related problems.

Charities Alcohol Concern and DrugScope both voiced concern about how tests will be carried out and launched a new service to give advice to employers.

"Drug-testing should he brought in only after full consultation with staff and within the context of a clear and humane policy on what to do with positive results,' said Roger Howard chief executive of DrugScope Mary-Ann McKibben, assistant director of Alcohol Concern, said it was "worrying, that one in four employers had no formal policy on tackling drink and drug problems.

She said: 'We need to get to a situation where organisations feel equipped to deal with people's problems in a sympathetic manner rather than knee-jerk reactions such as blanket testing or automatic sackings."

Many companies admitted they did not have the skills to deal with staff with alcohol or drug problems.

 jeremy_price@thisisessex.co.uk