Work place drug testing – what to do

June 26, 2013

in Employment

iStock_000016394154SmallEmployees being under the influence of drugs while at work is becoming a very real issue for employers, particularly in light of the 2012 United Nations World Drug Report, which indicates New Zealand has comparably high levels of illicit drug taking, particularly cannabis use. This issue creates a conflict between an employee’s right to privacy, and the rights and obligations of employers to provide a safe, healthy and efficient working environment.

Therefore having an effective drug and alcohol policy is important for employers. It is very important that you ensure that any policy you provide as an employer meets certain criteria.  The policy needs to be clear about many issues, such as;

  1. The duty of good faith in employment relationships;
  2. When you are legally allowed to undertake random drug testing;
  3. What is a safety sensitive area of work in a workplace;
  4. What is a “reasonable ground to believe” someone is under the influence of drugs at work, and when can you rely on that reasonable suspicion to undertake drug testing in the work place;
  5. How should the tests be carried out;
  6. What action can you take as an employer when the test provides a positive result;
  7. What are your rights as an employee.

As with all elements of an employment relationship there is a balance between an employee’s privacy and employer standards and safety and therefore it is crucial that any employer seek legal advice before taking any steps relating to drugs and alcohol testing.

If you require any advice or further information on the matters dealt with in this publication please contact the lawyer at Farry and Co. who normally advises you, or alternatively contact:

Kirsten Maclean

03 477 8870 or 09 379 0055


The information contained in this publication is intended as a guide only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.  Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances.  While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, Farry and Co. does not accept liability for any errors it may contain. 

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