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Councils adopting random/ with cause drug/alcohol testing.

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by micgbanks, Apr 9, 2019.

  1. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    I see today West Lothian is the latest Council to adopt a policy for all employees for testing for drugs/alcohol.

    My own LA introduced just recently the same type of policy. The random part only applies safety critical but the with cause will apply to all teachers. Policy states tests tests will be "non negative" tests and two over the course of 24 months will result in disciplinary action. Given the complete lack of rationale or evidence over the need for it's introduction. I wondered what peoples thoughts/ experience was of such policies.

    If it's a non negative tests how does such a zero threshold in terms if alcohol affect a teachers performance at low levels below the drink drive limits? Could teachers find themselves effectively criminalised for "day after" or alcohol levels so low that their perfomance in class is absolutly unaffected?

    Could young teachers who go on holiday say to Amsterdam and smoke cannabis legally be caught possibly a number of weeks later if tested. Are these tests against teachers human rights/dignity at work?Are the tests outwith teachers contracts? Does testing teachers in such a way represent value for money?

    Should teachers unions be getting involved to make their concerns known at this stage?
  2. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    If we consider such a scenario to be unfair,it would surely be unfair to all councils employees of all ages and not just young teachers?
  3. halfajack

    halfajack Occasional commenter

    Strange to consider such measures in a time of slashed budgets and recruitment and retention crisis!
  4. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    Fair point. I suppose it's about impairment of performance. Difficult and subjective for teacher even minus any alcohol or drugs.
  5. aypi

    aypi Established commenter

    I find it a bit distasteful that an employer can demand your blood, spit or urine.
    I find these things rather private.
    I believe we have a right to a private life.
    Once the sample leaves our bodies we have no control over what is done with it.
    We better stay in Europe to have any chance of any dignity.
    If they ever start testing for bacon consumption I am finished.
    sodalime, dunnocks and bigjimmy2 like this.
  6. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Established commenter

    I don't have a problem with alcohol/drug testing. Many other employers do it.
  7. aypi

    aypi Established commenter

    I am testing some cider at this very moment.
    sodalime and bigjimmy2 like this.
  8. davieee

    davieee Occasional commenter

    At the moment its only "safety critical roles" but even so, as soon as the unions of those affected ask why only their members are being targetted, its logical for the council to then say "we'll include everyone".

    If it does get expanded then the LA should be careful what it wishes for as drug taking in younger people in general is far more common than most of us would like to acknowledge.
  9. halfajack

    halfajack Occasional commenter

    What would the rationale be for testing staff not in 'safety critical roles?'

    I think you're right about younger people's use of drugs. I think many people around my age (early to mid 30s) were put of trying anything because of the tragic Leah Betts story. However, I've heard from numerous different sources that those just a bit younger (late twenties and younger) have no such reservations and drug taking among them at parties and nights out is rife. Even if you're of the opinion that this is something which has to be tackled, is it really the employers' place to spend tax payers' money on it?
  10. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Established commenter

    It will be argued that it is not professional to be at work with drugs in your system. Especially when you are in loco parentis wrt the people sat in front of you. Also, wrt safety critical, imagine the consequences (rightly or wrongly) if a pupil tripped and fell - nothing to do with the teacher - and injured themselves, and you were found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the equivalent of even just a pint or a glass of wine?
  11. davieee

    davieee Occasional commenter

    I get what you're saying regards being under the influence at the time of any accident or incident, however from what I understand most drugs tests only establish if you have taken the drug in the previous 10, 20 or 30 days (or whatever the timescale is).

    Its entirely feasible that someone has been in Amsterdam over 2 weeks prior to being tested and still get their jotters.
  12. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    The threshold proposed is non zero. meaning that if you were at a wedding/Christening/0 birthday celebration and had a few drinks but are fine to drive to school next day, you could still be caught out by this, if a kid had an accident in your class and you were tested. Mouthwash has enough alcohol in it to give a non zero test. A sesame seed roll has enough drugs to give an non zero test. Teachers could be caught by the "with cause" part of these policies which lead straight into the disciplinary process.

    What happens if you do have a celebration the day before and your line manager does not like you. They could claim your performance was affected and ask for a drugs/alcohol test.

    The % of these incidents is extremely small but the tests are between £300 and £400 a time. How easy might it be for managers to orchestrate a test......there's no smoke..... for employees whose face does not fit.

    Most of the policies I have seen are pretty bare with no specifics and nothing about any appeals procedure.

    Many workers rights organisations are set against these policies which are set up to cover corporate ar$es.

    I dont drink or take drugs but can see real dangers here for teachers. Particularly younger staff.
  13. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Established commenter

    Who is actually going to do the blood or urine tests required?

    I think you have the right to demand that this is carried out by an appropriately trained medical professional.

    I can't see schools having these on site.
  14. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    The test are carried out by third part companies which I assume are fully qualified I'm not sure what they will do with the results non negative or otherwise. I assume they must be stored somewhere securely. Who will have access to them and how long will they be stored?
  15. halfajack

    halfajack Occasional commenter

    Yes, it would be unprofessional. However, there are many unprofessional behaviours. Would they be able to justify monitoring your home computer use in case you're being abusive online? Indeed, the tabloids would have a field day with that scenario.
  16. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Established commenter

    Good point.

    But, being abusive is not necessarily a crime. Mean and cruel, sure, but not criminal.

    Having illegal drugs in your system, or too much alcohol, to use a legal drug as an example, is a crime.
  17. micgbanks

    micgbanks Occasional commenter

    My concerns are not for people who are drunk or on drugs in school. It's the people who get caught in the net of day after or in the case of drugs weeks after or mistakes.

    If you worked in an office and it didn't affect your performance at work nobody would turn a hair. However if a kid has an accident in your class/school you could be pulled into testing and fail a non negative test and end up in the disciplinary process. Some may say this is unlikely but it's perfectly possible.

    I'm not trying in anyway to defend drunk teachers or teachers who take drugs recreational or otherwise however we need to look very carefully at the way these policies are written and implemented to protect innocent teachers from collateral damage.
    sodalime, Marisha and bigjimmy2 like this.
  18. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Established commenter

    I agree.
  19. Bensusan

    Bensusan New commenter

    No it's not.
  20. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Established commenter


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