Council chiefs reject calls for 'Big Brother' drug and alcohol testing of staff

Council bosses have moved to shut down suggestions they should introduce compulsory ‘Big Brother’ drug and alcohol testing for staff.

By James Harrison
Wednesday, 19 June, 2019, 18:01
Picture c/o Pixabay.

 

In a question raised at a meeting of Durham County Council on June 19, independent opposition councillor Alex Watson asked why such a policy was not already in place.

But in a formal response to his query, county chiefs made it clear they did not think such a regime would be enforceable and could even harm working relationships with workers.

“This council has a very robust policy on drug and alcohol misuse, but the council will not require employees to be tested as a matter of course,” said Coun Andrea Patterson, cabinet member for corporate services and rural issues.

“There is no legislation that requires employers to undertake drug and alcohol testing of our staff and we cannot take a Big Brother approach to testing without good reason.”

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She added regular drug testing could not tell council bosses ‘what they need to know’ – such as whether a substance has been taken for recreational or medical use, such as a pain-killing opioid, or whether they are still acting under its influence.

Coun Watson argued the prospect of testing could act as a ‘powerful deterrent’ to any drug or alcohol use with the potential to affect work performance.

Speaking after the meeting, he added his question had been prompted by figures showing a rise in drug-related crime and admissions about cocaine use by Conservative leadership hopeful Michael Gove.