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Drugs and alcohol testing policy

Last reviewed on 29 October 2019

Here at the Co-op we want to make sure that everyone stays as safe as possible at work. That’s why we test colleagues for drugs and alcohol in areas of our business that have higher safety risks. The Co-op Drugs and Alcohol Policy applies to everyone, but this Testing Policy only applies if you:

  • work in, or are a visitor to, a Depot in Logistics (Workers includes workers from agencies, temporary workers and contractors. Visitors includes visitors from other Co-op departments as well as external visitors)
  • are in an operational role in Funeralcare (including the coffin and masonry factories)

If the Testing Policy applies to you as set out above, then this Policy is part of your terms and conditions of employment. If you’re not sure if testing applies to you, talk to your manager as soon as possible.

You must agree to be tested when we ask you. You must not tamper with any sample or kit used for testing.

If you breach this policy we’ll deal with it through the disciplinary process which could mean that disciplinary action is taken against you, including summary dismissal.

Just so you know, if you test positive for alcohol or non-negative for drugs and then try to drive, to protect everyone’s safety we will call the police.

Testing may be undertaken by a third party testing provider, or the tests may be administered by managers.

Crucial bits

Alcohol

If we test you for alcohol you must be below the legal drink drive limit, which is 0.5‰ Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in Scotland and 0.8‰ BAC in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you test at or above this level, we’ll consider this as gross misconduct.

We also have an advisory level for alcohol, which is 0.2‰ BAC in Scotland and 0.5‰ in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you test at or above this level, we’ll consider this as misconduct.

Just so it’s clear, the level that we’ll use will be the one that applies to the location where you are tested. We’ll also consider any recent journeys you’ve made while at work.

Drugs

If we test you for drugs it will be for those listed in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which might include other substances that could pose a risk to safety, such as Novel Psychoactive Substances. A positive result will mean that you are above the levels in the UK Workplace Drug Testing Guidelines. If you test positive, we’ll consider this as gross misconduct.

Drug or alcohol abuse/dependency

If you think you’ve got a problem with drug and/or alcohol misuse or dependency, we want you to talk to us before it becomes an issue at work, and before you’re tested. Your manager might talk to you if they notice any signs that suggest you could have a problem.

If you talk to your manager they’ll offer support and will keep things confidential, unless they’re concerned that there’s a risk to you or someone else. They’ll offer appropriate support, such as encouraging you to see your GP, referring you to occupational health, or for alcohol/drug misuse-focused counselling through our EAP.

If you test positive for drugs and or/alcohol but tell us you’ve got a medical problem, we’ll support you. This might mean that we pause any disciplinary proceedings. This’ll depend on what’s happened, what information there is about your medical problem and how willing you are to get treatment.

If you tell us you’ve got a problem, but refuse to have treatment or you stop your treatment before it’s completed, then we’ll continue with the normal disciplinary process.

If you’re having treatment for a drug or alcohol problem and you need time off work for appointments, there’s more information in the Time-Off for Dental and Medical Appointments Policy.

When we’ll test for drugs and alcohol

We might test you for drugs and alcohol in any of the following circumstances:

Pre-employment

We might ask you to take a drugs and/or alcohol test before you start working with us, whether as a permanent colleague, a contractor or an agency worker. This’ll depend on the type of role that you’re applying for. If you test positive for drugs and/or alcohol we’ll talk to you about this but it’ll normally mean that we won’t employ you.

After an incident

We’ll test you for drugs and/or alcohol if you’re directly involved in any accident or incident at work: - which has resulted in death or major injury to a colleague, contractor or member of the public - where there was potential to cause major injury or death to a colleague, contractor or member of the public - where you caused an injury to a colleague, contractor or visitor that requires medical treatment beyond basic first aid - where you injure a member of the public or cause damage to their property - where you cause non-trivial damage to Co-op property or equipment

Reasonable suspicion

We’ll test you if we have reason to think you’re under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol at work to the extent that your judgment, behaviour or ability to carry out your job safely is affected.

Random

We might call you for a random drug and/or alcohol test. These tests may take place at any time and location and we won’t tell you about this in advance. Colleagues will be chosen at random.

Follow up

If you’ve told us you’ve got a problem with drug and/or alcohol misuse or dependency and you’re getting medical help, we might test you on an ongoing basis to make sure that you’re safe to do your normal job.

Testing process

If we ask you to take a drugs and/or alcohol test, this’ll happen somewhere private, like a First Aid room.

Before they start, the person carrying out the test will tell you why you’re being tested, how it will be done and what might happen if the test result is positive for alcohol or non-negative for drugs. You’ll be asked to complete a form to give your consent to the test.

If you like, you can be accompanied by a work colleague or a Trade Union representative. But if your chosen person is not available quickly then we’ll carry on with the test.

Alcohol tests

Alcohol tests will be done by an electronic breath test. If the result is zero, then that’ll be the end of the test.

If the result is above zero, we’ll ask you to wait for 20mins and then give another sample of breath. The result of this second test will be taken as final. If you don’t wait to do the second test, then we’ll deal with this through the disciplinary process.

If the result of the second test is positive and above the Co-op limit, then we’ll normally suspend you from work on the grounds of safety. You’ll be invited to a meeting under the disciplinary process.

Drug tests

Drug tests will initially be done by either a saliva/skin test or a urine test. You’ll be told before the test starts which method will be used.

If the first test is being done by a saliva/skin test, we’ll use a portable testing kit. For the skin test you’ll need to wipe this over your forehead at the hairline, over the back of your neck at the hairline and behind both of your ears. For saliva test you’ll need to wipe this over your tongue.

If the result is negative, then that’ll be the end of the test and the whole testing kit will be securely thrown away, or you can chose to keep it. If the result is non-negative then you’ll be asked to give a urine sample which will be sent to the laboratory for analysis.

If the first test is a urine test, this will be done on-site using a portable testing kit. If the result is negative, then that’ll be the end of the test and the whole sample will be securely thrown away. If the result is non-negative then the rest of the sample will be sent to the laboratory for analysis.

While we wait for the results of the analysis, we’ll normally suspend you from work on the grounds of safety. Depending on the results of the analysis, we may then invite you to a meeting under the disciplinary process.

Prescribed medications

Tell your manager as soon as possible if you’re taking any medications. Even if it’s been prescribed by your doctor, it might affect your ability to carry out your role safely.

If you’ve told your manager and then you test non-negative for drugs we’ll still normally suspend you while we wait for the results of the analysis, just to be safe. If the result of the analysis just shows the medication you’ve told us about, then following a risk assessment, you’ll normally be able to return to work. If the result is positive for anything other than the medication you’ve told us about, then we’ll normally progress to the disciplinary process.

Agency workers, temporary workers, contractors and visitors – Logistics Depots

If you’re working or visiting a Logistics depot through an agency, as a temporary member of staff or as a contractor and you test positive for alcohol or non-negative for drugs we’ll talk to you about the result and you’ll be given the option to submit a follow-up urine test for analysis.

After this we’ll ask you leave our premises. It won’t matter if the initial test was done after an incident, because we have reasonable suspicion or randomly. We’ll then tell your agency or manager why we’ve asked you to leave. Agencies and contractors will deal with this under their own policies. You won’t be allowed to work in any Co-op premises in the future.

If you’re a visitor to a Logistics depot from another Co-op department and test positive for alcohol or non-negative for drugs your line manager will be informed of the outcome. They’ll talk to you about this, and may invite you to a meeting under the disciplinary process.

Concerns about colleagues

If you think that a colleague is coming to work under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol, or if you think they might have a drug and/or alcohol misuse or dependency problem, you must tell your manager as soon as possible. Any information you tell them will be kept confidential.

We want you to tell us about any concerns you have. But if we find that you’ve made false allegations just to get someone else into trouble we’ll deal with this through the disciplinary process. This could mean that disciplinary action is taken against you, including dismissal.

If you need further support

If you have any questions about this Policy or need specific support, speak to your manager. If managers need advice, including about what support is available for colleagues who have told us they have a drug or alcohol problem, they can contact ER Services

If you need additional support, or you feel like you can’t talk to your manager, remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can provide colleagues with support. You can contact the EAP on 0800 069 8854. It’s independent and totally confidential, and there’s no charge for Co-op colleagues.