Can you refuse a workplace drug test?


As an employee, can you refuse a workplace drug test?

This question may seem simple and you may think that a yes or no answer applies, but in practice the question is more complex. And so is the answer. Because an employee’s right to refuse a workplace drug test can only be answered accurately with an answer of ‘it depends’.

Workplace drug test case

The question on whether an employee can refuse a workplace drug test was put under the microscope by the Fair Work Commission in 2013 when an employee filed for unfair dismissal.

The employee, Raymond Biggs, was sacked after he refused to take a workplace drug test. More specifically, he refused to undergo urine testing for drugs, primarily because he was concerned that urine testing could reveal historic drug use rather than a determination of fit for work. He requested to undertake saliva testing instead.

Mr Briggs’ case was rejected by the Fair Work Commission and his sacking stood. But this doesn’t mean that an employee can’t refuse a workplace drug test. The Fair Work Commission made its judgement based on the fact that Mr Briggs’ employer had a clear drug and alcohol policy that detailed that urine testing for drugs would be conducted. The Fair Work Commission also ruled that the policy was lawful and the policy had been made clear to Mr Briggs.

Workplace drug test case – the learnings

  • The ruling again highlights the importance of having a robust and clear workplace drug and alcohol policy and management plan.
  • The ruling also highlights how vital it is to clearly detail all aspects of the policy, including what type of drug testing will be undertaken and what are the consequences of refusing a workplace drug test.
  • Just as importantly, the ruling is a reminder of the need to educate employees about your business’ drug and alcohol policy.

NOTE: Integrity Sampling also believes that saliva testing is better than urine testing for drugs, because it provides a more accurate determination of whether an employee is fit for work. That’s why we predominantly use saliva testing for our workplace drug testing. However, we are more than capable and willing to conduct urine testing if your company prefers.

Can an employee refuse to take a workplace drug test?

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

Leave a comment