Picture this. You’ve had a big night out with mates. While knocking back a few drinks of alcohol, you also consume illegal drugs to heighten your enjoyment of the evening. Now it’s the next day and while driving to work, you’ve been stopped by the police for random testing. You pass the alcohol test, but then you’re asked to undergo random drug testing and you fail. What consequences will you face?
What consequences will you face for failing roadside drug testing?
On the roadside, the consequences for failing roadside drug testing are clearly laid out.
In South Australia, for example, you’ll now be facing a likely license disqualification of at least three months if it’s your first offense, a loss of four demerit points and a sizable fine of over $800. If you refuse drug testing, you’ll be facing a court imposed penalty and will lose six demerit points.
These consequences are in line with the penalties for drink driving. The only difference is that the consequences for drink driving can escalate, depending on your blood alcohol level.
It’s also worth noting that in South Australia, you can now face an Immediate Loss of Licence for drug driving.
What if you fail drug testing at work?
The above highlights the consequences you could be facing if you get stopped by police on the way to work. But what happens if you make it to work and then face drug testing? What are the consequences if you provide a positive drug test in the workplace?
Because the test took place in the workplace, the consequences are less defined. Each workplace will – or should have – its own workplace drug and alcohol policies. And in each workplace policy, the consequences for failing drug testing or refusing drug testing should be laid out.
In some industries, you could be facing dismissal. A good example is the aviation industry, where some workers will be shown the door if they fail drug or alcohol testing. If you’re piloting an airplane with hundreds of lives in your hands, it’s hard to argue the consequences. This situation made mainstream news in June this year when a Jetstar pilot was stood down for drug-related offences.
It’s not just the aviation industry where zero tolerance rules can apply, however. If you work in transportation, rail, mining and other roles where safety is an extremely high priority, zero tolerance can also come into play if you fail drug testing. In these roles, if you do fail drug testing, you’ll likely lose your job.
However, for most of us, a more cautionary approach is taken. Instead of losing your job, a first offence may involve a caution or other disciplinary action. You may also be asked to undergo further education or seek support for substance abuse issues.
Should you refuse workplace drug testing?
If you turn up to work and face workplace drug testing, knowing that you’re likely to fail, should you refuse?
While you certainly can refuse – nobody can force you to take a test – like on our roads you are best to take the test and face the consequences if you fail. Again, the consequences for refusing testing will depend on your workplace’s drug and alcohol policy.
Key messages for the workplace
While this blog has been written from the perspective of the employee, there are many key messages for employers. These include:
- Most notably, the importance of having a robust and detailed drug and alcohol policy in place.
- Making your employees and others who are exposed to risks within your workplace aware of your policy and any testing you carry out.
- Having reasonable consequences in place for failing drug testing. While zero tolerance is justified in some roles, in many a more cautionary approach is best.
- Having support in place for employees who have issues with substance abuse. While larger businesses may provide this support on-site, smaller and medium business can tap into support externally.
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What consequences will you face for failing workplace drug testing?