Would you pass the drugs test?
|The sacking of Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon for taking coke has led to renewed calls for random drug testing at work. Will you be next? And if you are forced to take a test, would you be found positive?|
|Poor Richard Bacon. Not only has he lost his job presenting Blue Peter after admitting a cocaine binge, he could also prove to be the catalyst which Drugs Czar Keith Hellawell needs to enforce random drug testing in offices and factories all over Britain. With Chris Evans opening his big mouth to claim "half the BBC are on drugs", the spotlight is once again focused on the rights of employers to investigate the recreational pastimes of their workforce. If your bosses decided they wanted to test you for drugs, how would you react ? You might soon find out. Testing, which has been common practice in the US since President Reagan's 'War On Drugs' campaign in the mid-80s, looks likely to become much more widespread here. Between six and ten per cent of companies already conduct pre-employment, random or 'for cause' testing (either because an employee has aroused suspicion or after an accident). These mainly concern workers in jobs classified as 'safety critical', such as train drivers and nuclear power station staff. Only train, tube and tram companies, such as Railtrack and London Underground, are obliged to test by law.|
|But the use of drug testing is cropping up in more and more companies, from US-owned hotel chains to City institutions - positive test levels in London's financial centres are said to run at ten to 15 per cent. Merseyside Police intends to test new recruits, a process which will in time be widened to include the whole force, though, controversially, officers who test positive will receive counselling rather than the boot. The fire brigade is also to introduce testing, and even Prince Andrew was subject to a drugs test recently, as part of his Royal Navy duties. Drugs agency Release, which offers a confidential drugs test for a tenner, even had one client who was turned down for a straightforward job in a video store after testing positive in a pre-employment drugs test. Drug testing is an industry worth £206 million in the US. Two-fifths of the workforce there are regularly tested. Last year, GQ magazine reported the case of a secretary in Indiana who was refused a job at a non-smoking firm because a pre-employment test revealed traces of nicotine from cigarettes she had smoked at home the previous week.|
|Would you pass the drugs test? continues|