(02) 8001 2535

(02) 8001 2535


Any policy, including an Alcohol and Drugs policy, needs to be provided and explained to all employees for it to be effective. Australian courts and tribunals are unlikely to uphold any dismissals for breach of workplace policies, if the policies have not been communicated properly to employees, are not up to date or have not been applied consistently. So what can be done to inform employees of their legal obligations? 1

Onsite tests are screening devices so they will detect any substances that are chemically like the target drugs. For this reason, results from onsite devices are always called non-negative, rather than positive.  A confirmation sample is then analysed by a laboratory to determine exactly what is in it. The laboratory analysis is specific and accurate. Some foods and drinks, such as hemp seeds, poppy seeds, kombucha and protein bars may trigger a non-negative result in the onsite device. That's why we ask workers undergoing a drug and alcohol test to not eat or drink anything for at least 10 to 15 minutes prior.

We often get asked whether workers being drug tested should disclose any medications that they are taking. Many workers who have been tested by other agencies report that they have had to disclose.
There are privacy issues with this, such as:  (1) Most medications are not relevant to the test result;  (2) Most medications do not cause any impairment;  (3) Many medications are taken for conditions that are not relevant to the work or the worker's safety.

At DASA we do not routinely ask what medications are taken – only if the onsite test is non-negative and going to the laboratory for confirmation. The laboratory toxicologist can then make a judgement as to whether the result is consistent or not with the medication declared.

One in every 166 people (130,000) in Australia are getting specialist public treatment for substance use in 2017–18, according to the most recent report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2018 recently released.
 The most common substance addictions leading to rehab treatment in Australia are:  Alcohol - 34%;  Amphetamines - 25%;  Marijuana / Cannabis - 21%  and Heroin - 5%.

Alcohol is still by far the most commonly abused substance in Australia getting treatment (34%) with more than one third of treatments but this has fallen from 40% in 2013-2014. 

A worker who was dismissed for being very drunk at an after-work drinks function has been reinstated by the Fair Work Commission. (1)
The woman was employed by a company who are contractors to the Sydney Opera House. At an after-hours drinks function with employees of the Opera House, the woman became so drunk as to vomit at the bar and needed to be helped to a taxi to take her home. The company dismissed her on the grounds of inappropriate conduct, which it believed was covered by its code of conduct on the expected standards of behaviour of employees. However, the Commission agreed with the woman that it is a case of unfair dismissal and ordered that she be reinstated.

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Leading the way
62 Harris St, Harris Park NSW 2150
PO Box 9017 Harris Park NSW 2150
02 8001 2535 | info@dasa.net.au