Drug testing raises important public policy questions e.g. the balance between public interest and individual rights; the responsibility to provide support and treatment; the relationship between drug and alcohol use and drug and alcohol dependency; and the deterrent effect of drug testing regimes.

 It should be borne in mind that drug testing should only ever be used to detect impairment at work rather than the illegal use of substances in an employee’s private life, and that the results of drug tests can have a profound impact on the rights of individuals.

Drug and alcohol policy should therefore be conceived as a component of health and welfare policy and not primarily as a disciplinary matter.

A workplace drug and alcohol policy should be compliant with the values of the organization as well as taking into consideration applicable employment legislation, regulations, laws and collective bargaining agreements.  It should be written in simple terms free of jargon, and the entire length of the policy will vary depending on the issues it addresses.

The prime function of the policy should be to ensure uniformity and consistency in decision making and operational procedures, foster continuity, and assist in establishing accountability, roles and responsibilities.

It should include a statement of purpose, and one or more broad guidelines on actions to be taken to achieve that purpose.