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Can we test for drugs and alcohol as part of a pre-employment assessment?

Q: What are the legal requirements for requesting a pre-employment medical to include blood or urine drug and alcohol testing?

A: Drug and alcohol testing can be conducted as part of a pre-employment assessment, provided you obtain the consent of the worker and it is reasonable considering the risk level of the worker’s activities.

Whether blood and urine testing is a reasonable and appropriate method is currently a contentious issue. While there is a general view among employers that blood and urine testing is more accurate than oral testing, workers and the Fair Work Commission have recently expressed concerns that it may be an unreasonable and intrusive assessment, as it is able to detect drugs and alcohol consumed outside the workplace. This means that if you wish to undertake tests by way of blood or urine samples, it may be more difficult to obtain workers’ consent to take a drug and alcohol test as part of the pre-employment assessment.

Please note: The answer is correct at the time of publishing. Be aware that laws may change over time. Refer to Alcohol and other drugs and Pre-employment assessments for current advice.

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