10:54am Thursday 28th February 2013
By Kathryn Snowdon
Drink and drug testing is set to be brought in for council workers in Hertsmere.
Politicians voted this week to introduce spot tests for employees suspected to be under the influence during work hours.
The decision comes after a worker was dismissed last year for alcohol abuse.
The new policy and testing equipment is expected to be in place at the beginning of April.
The committee’s chairman, Councillor John Donne, said: "I think it is good to review all council policies after a certain period of time, otherwise things will stagnate."
Changes are being made now because the current Alcohol Policy, last reviewed in 2007, does not address the wider issues or substance misuse such as drugs and solvents.
At a council meeting last year, The Head of HR and Customer Services said that such tests, had they been available earlier in the year, would have been used on a number of occasions and would have placed the Council in a stronger position.
Two forms of testing will be introduced, the breathalyzer test will be used to detect alcohol consumption, whereas the saliva swab test will be used to identify other substances.
The council will set a maximum limit of 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood for any employee during their working day - the same as the current drink driving limit.
Councillor Donne added: "It won’t be random testing, instead it would depend if there is felt to be a need."
Councillor Donne said, at the moment, the policy does not apply to Members, and this decision will be reviewed later by the Executive Committee.
The policy allows a member of staff to be tested if there is just cause and reasonable belief they are under the influence of drink or drugs.
Line managers will be in charge of whether they deem substance testing necessary and council officers will administer the tests themselves after training.
The new policy states that staff must not be under the influence of alcohol or other substances that impair working ability, or work under the influence of prescribed drugs against medical advice.
It also states staff must not bring illegal substances into work or consume illegal substances in the workplace, or within break and lunchtimes before returning to work.
If a member of staff has given just cause to suspect they are under the influence of a substance they could be asked to take one of the two tests.
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