Drugs and Alcohol Testing

Our Ref: HSR/5/10
Head Office Circular: NP/028/16
21st January 2016

The Secretary

Dear Colleague

Drugs and Alcohol Testing

    Referring to decision No GWW, 21st January 2016, your National Executive Committee have noted and adopted the following decision of their Health & Safety Sub:

“We note the facts of this case which involved a bus driver who failed a flawed drug and alcohol testing process but was able to show, at an employment tribunal hearing that there may have been other reasons for failing the test. The individual was able to show, via a hair specimen test, that there had been no deliberate ingestion of cocaine and its metabolites. The claimant raised all of this defence during his disciplinary hearings but was still dismissed from his employment. At the tribunal it was found that there were “fundamental failings in the investigations carried out by the Respondent and those relate to matters which lie easily within the ambit of any reasonable investigation”.

While the findings of the Tribunal were encouraging, they do rely on a particular set of circumstances that may not be relevant to drug and alcohol testing in the railway industry. To increase the likelihood of success in any case of a similar nature then if a member suspects they have fallen victim to a false positive test as a result of handling contaminated cash they should:

-    Ensure, if the member suspects that there may be any issues with the test itself (i.e. handling the test apparatus without gloves) or that a likelihood of a false positive is high (i.e. handling a significant number of banknotes; eating lunch after handling the notes) that they mention this to the employer prior to taking the test.
-    Ensure that they undertake their own private test at the earliest opportunity, and (assuming the results are favourable) that the outcome of the test is presented to the employer as soon as possible. Cost is obviously a factor here, but this should be weighed against the long term cost of losing one’s job and reduced employment prospects;
-    Ensure that it is mentioned to the employer that the test is a false positive at the earliest opportunity, and that they mention the reasons why they suspect it is as soon as possible (i.e. contaminated banknotes).

We instruct the General Secretary to distribute the full legal advice to all Branches and Regional Councils”.


I am in the process of carrying out those instructions

Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all relevant members.

Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary