Businesses becoming hooked on drug testing

Drug testing of staff in UK workplaces could soon become a widespread and accepted part of business life, according to a new report.

The Inquiry into Drug Testing at Work, set up by DrugScope, found that 78 per cent of British employers would consider testing employees if they believed drugs or alcohol was affecting staff productivity.

Over a third of businesses said that drug testing does not impact on human rights, disagreeing with trade union claims.

The inquiry said that drug testing could soon become a part of everyday business life, due to the lack of debate on the issue of staff rights and “aggressive” marketing by drugs companies.

However, many small firms cannot afford to have testing procedures in place, despite the rise in the number of employees taking drugs or getting drunk before or while at work.

An estimated 14 million working days a year are lost due to wasted staff, costing small businesses millions of pounds in lost productivity.

Despite the rise of alcohol and drug abuse among staff, the DrugScope inquiry warned against following American business practice, where around half of companies already drug test workers.

The inquiry claimed that drug testing can only have a limited impact n safety and performance, with the procedures often costly and divisive.

Ruth Evans, chair of the inquiry, said that more and more employers in industries that are not ‘safety sensitive’ are considering drug testing.

“The reality is that better management practices are a more worthwhile investment of time and money than drug testing.

“This is also about getting the work-life balance right and understanding that unhealthy and stressful work environments contribute to the abuse of drugs and alcohol,” she said.

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