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As far as I know, the purpose of drug testing is to make sure that people aren’t under the influence while working. But something doesn’t make sense about this. Drug tests determine whether someone has had drugs in the past few days. Some drugs can stay in a person’s system for a week or more, so if someone had a fun Saturday night and a random drug test happens on Tuesday, they could lose their livelihood. Is this at all considered in company policies or drug laws?

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  • Your question is really about HR best practices, not the law, and you should ask in Workplace SE. – user6726 May 5 at 4:33
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    "As far as I know, the purpose of drug testing is to make sure that people aren’t under the influence while working." This is not the case. More often than not it's a morality thing. – Studoku May 5 at 11:43
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It's legal to drug test employees, but ...

Testing for drug and alcohol use in Australian companies is not uncommon. For some industries, drug and alcohol testing is compulsory, such as in construction, aviation, and transport.

Since 2015, amendments to the Building Code 2013 have made it mandatory for building contractors working on building sites financed by federal dollars to undergo drug and alcohol testing.

As an employer, you have the right to insist on a drug or alcohol test for your employees, granted that the reasons are justifiable such as:

  • the improvement of workplace productivity
  • health concerns
  • workplace safety
  • maintaining employee integrity

But having justifiable reasons for drug or alcohol test is not enough. You are also required to stick to the parameters in your drug and alcohol policy. These parameters include:

  • when the drug test can occur
  • the type of drug test to administer
  • how the results will be used
  • how the company will respond to a positive test result

In summary, you must have a reason, you must have clear communication with employees on the when, where, what and how of the drug tests, and you must have reasonable responses to a positive test and/or refusal to undertake a test. If you don't you risk consequences.

In Shannon Green v Lincon Logistics Pty Ltd T/A Lincon Hire & Sales (2017) FWC 4916 delivered 20 September 2017 per Platt C, an inadequate drug and alcohol policy and its incorrect implementation allowed an employee to succeed in their claim for unfair dismissal.

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Some drugs can stay in a person’s system for a week or more, so if someone had a fun Saturday night and a random drug test happens on Tuesday, they could lose their livelihood. Is this at all considered in company policies or drug laws?

As far as the person is concerned, he/she would have agreed to the condition of employment that if drugs are detected in their body — regardless of when they were actually consumed — they are fired.

As far as the company is concerned, the fuzziness of the testing method is acceptable trade-off. Whereas some no-longer-under-influence-last-weekend-dopers would have been weeded out, it is cheaper to replace them than enhance the testing method to actually detect state of being under influence.

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  • I get that but don’t many people drink or smoke over the weekend. I’m trying to understand the feasibility, not defend people who use drugs, that’s a separate debate – Ibby May 5 at 3:52
  • If companies were to fire everyone who happened to be unlucky enough to have recently had drugs during a random drug test, I feel like there would be more unemployed people. – Ibby May 5 at 3:55
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    @Ibby That's about statistics/math. Rest assured the companies would have calculated those before making decisions. – Greendrake May 5 at 3:57
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    How you feel and what reality is, have no necessary relevance to each other. Clearly the people who make decisions and collect information feel differently, or they wouldn't use drug tests to detect usage and potential intoxication. – Nij May 5 at 5:10

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