A study by a global drug testing firm has confirmed the overwhelming majority of UK workers are drug-free. However, the report from Concateno, which looked at drug tests conducted by 856 UK employers in industries including logistics, haulage, policing, utilities, retail, occupational health, manufacturing, construction, commerce, and healthcare, also suggests there has been an increase in companies demanding testing. This is a concern to the TUC, which says there are few circumstances in which these tests can be justified. Concateno says it report is based on the results of 1.7m UK workplace drug tests over the past five years, and found in the five years from 2007 and 2011 positive tests increased from 2.26 per cent to 3.23 per cent. However, traces of some drugs can persist in the body for months, so the findings suggest only a tiny fraction of the UK workforce is taking drugs with any frequency. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber commented: 'Drug testing certainly does not show the number of workers coming to work under the influence of drugs, simply whether the residue of past drug use is in a person's blood urine or hair.' Mr Barber added that employers cannot ignore drug use at work, but the way to tackle this danger is by having proper policies in place for dealing with drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace, rather than introducing random testing which is not only a breach of a person's right to privacy and dignity, but is also of dubious legality (Risks 459). 'It is worrying that this company claims to have carried out 1.7 million tests when the UK's Information Commissioner's Code on workers' health information opposes most testing. The Code notes: 'Very few employers will be justified in testing to detect illegal use rather than on safety grounds'.' He said employers are being seduced by the marketing campaigns of drug testing companies into seeing random testing as the solution to sickness absence problems. 'This is why the government needs to produce clear and definitive guidance on testing, especially on the legal issues. Drug testing techniques are not going to help employers combat absenteeism and tests can never be a substitute for a comprehensive drugs and alcohol policy aimed at supporting staff, and ensuring that no-one in the workplace is working under the influence of drink or drugs.'
Briefing document (500 words) issued 6 Jul 2012
This page http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-21186-f0.cfm
printed 19 June 2013 at 02:39 hrs by 18.104.22.168