Should and can you be sacked for failing a drugs test?

by Direct2Lawyers on October 1, 2012

  • Sumo

Failing a drugs test at work can have serious consequences for your job. Employers take issues such as this extremely seriously and will often take drastic action if you fail or refuse to take a blood test. This can even result in your dismissal if your employer deems it appropriate. If you’ve failed a drugs test or think that you may do so you’ll therefore want to know what the appropriate action to take in the circumstances. This post therefore examines what may happen to employees if they fail a drugs test and what they can do if they’re disciplined or dismissed. This will entail a look at the following issues:

  1. What are the potential consequences if you fail a drugs test?
  2. What should you do if you’re disciplined or dismissed?
  3. Do I have a claim for unfair dismissal if I’m sacked because of failing my drugs test?

What are the potential consequences if you fail a drugs test?

This really depends on a variety of factors – the seriousness of the incident that has occurred, the nature of your job, your relationship with your employer, your past record etc. The potential consequences may include the following:

  • Your employer takes no action; or
  • Your employer gives you an informal warning; or
  • Your employer gives you a formal (possibly final) warning; or
  • Your employer dismisses you

It may be the case that your employer takes no action after you fail your drug test. However, your employer has a duty of care to both its employees and its customers so it is unusual that an employer will take no action at all. It is more likely that your employer will invite you to a disciplinary. This may involve suspending you at the same time, although your employer must take care that the decision to suspend you isn’t an unreasonable one or based on a knee-jerk decision. Your employer may, alternatively, choose to give you a formal or an informal warning. If they do so then you may wish to appeal against it, if you think it to be unfair. However, your employer may also choose to dismiss you. This is not unusual in cases involving failed drugs tests.

What should you do if you’re disciplined or dismissed?

If you believe that your warning or dismissal was unfair then you can submit an appeal (using this disciplinary appeal letter, if you wish). You may also wish to submit a grievance (using this grievance appeal letter, if you wish). If you’re dismissed from your employment then you may be able to make a claim for unfair dismissal, depending upon whether you meet the qualification criteria to make such a claim. You should seek employment law advice from a qualified employment law solicitor or talk to your Trade Union. ACAS may also be useful in such a situation.

Do I have a claim for unfair dismissal if I’m sacked because of failing my drugs test?

This depends on a range of factors (as above), including the following:

  • The nature of your employment (i.e. if you’re a policeman then it is likely there will be consequences)
  • Your position at work (i.e. whether you’re in a position of trust and confidence)
  • The nature of the incident
  • The effect on the employer, on the employer’s customers, and on your fellow workers
  • Your past record (have you got an unblemished, long service record?)
  • Your proximity to members of the public (i.e. would failing a drugs test affect your ability to work with, for example, children?)
  • Whether the incident affects your ability to do your job; and
  • Whether your employer has lost trust in you

You should speak to a specialist employment solicitor if you’ve lost your job because you’ve failed a drugs test.

Direct 2 Lawyers offer free employment law advice for employers and free employment law advice for employees. The specialist unfair dismissal solicitors they use offer compromise agreement advice and no win no fee Employment Tribunal representation.

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