Workplace drug testing

by | Jun 24, 2016 | Disciplinary & Dismissal

As kiwi homeowners spend millions fixing P-contaminated homes, drug and alcohol testing is becoming a hot-topic with employers. Methamphetamine is being detected in an increasing proportion of failed workplace drug tests in New Zealand. And the costs to our economy aren’t just the clean-up operations, but also health problems including skin disorders, respiratory and neurological problems.

Workplace drug testing is an important part of having a safety culture in your business, so we thought we would put together a quick guide on what you can do as an employer. Get the right advice for passing a drug test.

Random drug testing

If you want the right to do random drug testing in your organisation you need to include this in the employment agreement, code of conduct or policy document signed by each employee. However, you can only put this in place if you have a genuine business reason to do so. For example, in an office based environment, it’s unlikely that you would be able to put in place a random drug testing policy. However, in a construction company this is generally acceptable.

What is random drug testing?

To be truly random, everyone in the organisation needs to go in the pool for testing, management included.   One of the best truly random testing systems we have heard of, was a company who had a bag of ping pong balls (one for each employee), but a certain number of them were painted yellow.  Everyone in the organisation was asked to draw a ping pong ball and those who picked the yellow balls had to undergo drug testing.

Testing for cause?

Irrespective of whether you have a drug or alcohol testing policy in place, if you have reason to believe that  someone has come to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or has been using drugs or alcohol during working hours, you can ask them to provide a test result to prove their innocence as part of a disciplinary process. If they refuse, then you can take that refusal into account when considering whether you were right to believe that they were under the influence.

Compulsory testing after certain events

The most common policy where you have compulsory testing after an event would be a car accident. For example, you may have a policy stating that if you have an accident during work hours, or whilst driving a company vehicle you may be required to undergo drug and/or alcohol testing. This may be necessary for your insurance.

How long can drugs be detected?

According  to websites like, the length of time drugs and alcohol stay in a persons body varies from person-to-person depending on the dose, but here are some guidelines:

Amphetamines: 2-6 days
Benzodiazepines: 2-14 days
Cannabis: 2-30 days
Cocaine: 2-5 days
Ecstasy: 2-6 days
Methadone: 2-8 days
Methamphetamine: 2-6 days
Opiates: 2-5 days

The  NZDDA  also advise  that  a  drug  that  can  build  up  in  the  body and  stay detectable for  longer. This  extended  time  frame  only  applies  to  regular  or  heavy users.

Keep your team safe. Let HRtookit show you how with our Health and Safety Toolkit.

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