We wrote to Neal recently about your concerns around the new Drug and Alcohol Policy and told Neal and his representative from Quartz that HACSU fundamentally don’t agree with the policy.
We don't believe random testing is necessary - workers should only be tested if a concern is raised regarding that worker.
NWSS have since adjusted the policy to respond to some of your concerns:
Among those changes are:
- NWSS have revised the policy to clarify that the intent is not to automatically terminate the employment of workers if they fail one test.
- They’ll make the process clearer around what happens if someone returns a non-negative screening result. Workers will have an opportunity to explain why they believe they returned a non-negative result and to have a support person. It is only after this process is complete that NWSS will decide whether there will be disciplinary action.
- NWSS have removed the requirement that workers have to sign a statutory declaration as an admission that they returned a non-negative result at screening. Now management will sign off confirming the results. Workers will instead sign prior to the test to confirm that they’ve had the procedure explained to them and if they are taking any prescription medication.
- The policy originally stated that “employees taking prescription drugs must have them in the original container that identifies the individual by name and specifies the drug, dosage, prescription date and the prescribing physician.” After we reminded NWSS that a worker’s personal medication is their private information which management does not have the right to know, NWSS has agreed to simplify the requirements.
- After we raised with NWSS that they cannot make their judgment alone on if a worker’s personal medication is being used correctly, they conceded that they’ll seek further medical advice if there are ongoing concerns.
- NWSS admitted that some valid concerns have been raised about the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) process and agreed that the programme is meant for workers to access anonymously to raise any matter that’s worrying them without fear of retribution. They’ve redrafted the section accordingly and distinguished between EAP and a dedicated support program to assist with drug and alcohol issues.
There have been some major changes made to the policy but, thanks to members raising your concerns, we are able to ask NWSS to make all of these amendments.
That being said, we’ve told NWSS that HACSU still holds significant concerns about the reliability and integrity of the proposed testing regime - we believe screening workers with off-the-shelf products is questionable at best.
We also pointed out that most other organisations that decided to have a testing policy engage an accredited and experienced agency to do the tests and, hopefully, NWSS management will take this on board as well.
If you have any questions or need more explanation on these changes, please feel free to contact me through HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email@example.com