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Workplace Drug Testing

What are the laws surrounding drug testing in the workplace?

There is no specific employment related law that deals with drug testing in the workplace, however the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment offers the following advice:

“Whether employees can be tested for drugs in the workplace will depend on a variety of factors. The following are examples of factors that may be taken into account but should not be taken as a detailed guide, as each case will be different.

  • The industry in which they work and the type of work they do.
    • Whether an employee’s work directly impacts the safety of others may affect whether it will be reasonable to drug test that employee. Positions with that potential are more common in some industries than others.
  • Whether there is a potential health and safety risk.
    • The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 places a duty on an employer to provide a safe workplace. This may sometimes justify drug testing. This is more likely to be the case if an employee works in a safety sensitive area, shows signs of being affected by drugs, or has recently been involved in a workplace accident or “near-miss”.
  • Privacy considerations.
    • An employee’s right to privacy in relation to personal information under the Privacy Act 1993 and common law may need to be taken into account, particularly when considering sample collection procedures, the method of analysis, and the handling of test results.
  • The effect on basic individual rights.
    • Relevant laws to consider may include the Human Rights Act 1993 and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (although the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 only applies to acts done by certain employers). Even if those laws do not make it unlawful for an employer to require an employee to undergo drug testing they may influence whether the requirement is reasonable.”

Moorhouse Medical Centre’s Business Health team provides employers with a convenient drug and alcohol drug screening service. To find out more, see http://www.moorhousemedical.co.nz/Business-Health/Occupational-Health-Services/