Drugs in the workplace
Occupational Health and Safety
The employer is responsible for the health and safety of his/her employees in the workplace. When an employee comes to work under the influence of drugs, he or she may endanger colleagues or others.
To prevent this from happening, the employer must take action. He or she must clearly state that the use of drugs before or during work is strictly prohibited. The employer may state the penalties for violations.
An employee comes to work with red eyes and is acting strangely. The employer suspects that the employee is under the influence of drugs. The employer wants to test the employee for drugs.
This type of test is subject to strict conditions of lawfulness. In principle, it is not possible if the use of drugs does not endanger the life or serious health of the employee, his colleagues or third parties. Furthermore, the results of the test are subject to medical confidentiality.
Refusal to be subjected to the test
Where the test is not lawful for overriding safety reasons, the employee may in principle refuse to undergo a test. However, in the case of proven alcohol consumption, the employer may still sanction the employee.
When an employee is found to be under the influence of drugs, the employer must react quickly. He must protect the health of his other employees. In serious cases or in the event of recurrence, the employer may dismiss the employee.
Drug addiction is an inherent part of the employee's personality. Whether or not a termination on this basis is wrongful will depend on the circumstances and the activity carried out by the employee.
Termination with immediate effect is only valid if the use of drugs irreparably destroys the employer's trust in the employee. It will often be admissible when the employee has seriously endangered other people or has received a warning for the same occurrence.