5 January 2020 posted by Recovery Partners

The reason for drug and alcohol screening is to deter workers from abusing alcohol and drugs either in the workplace or before entering the workplace. Testing is also vital in ensuring a safe and healthy working environment and reduce the risk of workplace injuries due to drug and/or alcohol intoxication. In addition, substance use can take a heavy toll on businesses, costing millions in lost productivity.

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While some industries such as transportation and health care have specific regulations on drug testing, the majority of Australian employers are free to determine what should happen to employees who fail drug tests. However, failing to take any disciplinary action can encourage use among employees. Below are some of the actions that you can take if an employee tests positive for drugs.

Workplace probation

If your company policy allows workers to keep their jobs on a last chance agreement or strikes policy, you should develop a return-to-work arrangement and place the employee on probation. This generally involves placing the employee under supervision while at work, and where necessary, temporarily assign duties that pose less of a safety risk. You may also withhold certain privileges during the probation period but be sure to review employee rights before withholding any benefits or salary. You could also possible place the employee on a random testing program to ensure regulations are adhered to. 


Depending on the severity of the substance use, you may direct employees who fail drug tests to participate in Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or any other service which can be accessed through their GP or a local health center. You may remove the employee from the job site until the end of their EAP sessions. This allows the employee to get evaluated and monitored by a healthcare professional to ensure they are complying with all recommendations. 

An elaborate EAP may add to the effectiveness of a workplace alcohol and other drugs policy in your company saving you both time and money.


This should be the last resort, but if your company has a zero-tolerance drug-free policy, termination might be your only option. Make sure your drug and alcohol policy specifies the grounds for dismissal and the number of warnings staff should be given. And by staying up to date with the relevant federal and state laws you can avoid legal issues on firing an employee.

Having a good drug and alcohol policy can make the process a whole lot easier and help you avoid taking disciplinary actions on a case by case basis. You should be consistent when applying disciplinary measures as the opposite can open you to discriminatory lawsuits.

At Recovery Partners we offer onsite drug and alcohol testing. We will help you assess all aspects of substance abuse including functional capability, mental state and possible dependence and provide you with recommendations.

For more information on drug and alcohol testing, you can make enquiries here. Alternatively, you can give us a call on 1300 OHS RTW (647 789).

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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au