For more information on Drugs and Alcohol click here for the relevant chapter of the TUC guide to health and safety "Hazards at Work

Alcohol and drug testing at work has been continually in the news. But testing workers is not a magic solution to a serious workplace problem.

A number of recent studies have suggested UK companies have a growing appetite for drug and alcohol tests. However, closer scrutiny of workplace practices would on many occasions be more instructive. Testing will not reveal the possible workplace causes of drug or alcohol misuse such as stress or long, or irregular, hours.

Health organisations recognise now that the best approach is to treat drug and alcohol use problems in the workplace as sickness or capability, and not disciplinary, issues.

The TUC says a drugs and alcohol policy should be comprehensive and should ensure workers feel confident to report rather than hide problems. It is important that employers and union representatives address the issue in a non-judgemental way.

Every employer should have a policy on dealing with the issue and unions should be involved in developing and implementing these policies.

Employee assistance programmes, or better still "member assistance programs" - where unions provide back up and support for their members - can help individuals return to a healthy and productive condition.


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