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Workplace Drug Testing Regulations Around the World

2 Dec 2022 | Drugs

Workplace drug testing in certain parts of the world can be a tricky business. From questions of privacy to social responsibility and the role and potential responsibility of employers and private enterprises. It is a subject that questions where the line should be drawn between the right to privacy and the right to professionalism.

Fortunately, many states have laws in place that provide guidelines around drug-free workplace policies and how drug testing is to be administered.

UK
Workplace drug testing is legal in the UK but only under specific circumstances. Employers are required employee consent to testing for drugs either before or during employment.

Ireland
Generally, workplace drug tests are only carried out if it is stated in the contract. Employers must be aware of the stringent restrictions imposed by data protection and employment equality legislation in processing special category personal data.

France
Drug testing is legal in France, but only during employment. The tests cannot be carried out before a contract is signed by the employee.

Switzerland
Drug testing can be conducted before and during the course of employment.

Russia 
As long as employee consent to the drug test, either before hiring or during the course of employment, drug test is permissible.

Turkey
Employee’s explicit consent is required to conduct drug and alcohol testing. Drug testing can be conducted both before employment and during the course of employment and during the course of employment.

Ukraine
There is no general prohibition from carrying out drug/substance abuse testing. It is subject to the employee’s consent.

United Arab Emirates
Drug/substance abuse testing can be carried out before employment. It can also be conducted during employment, provided that provisions concerning the testing are contained in the employment contract.

Hong Kong
Drug test is permitted if the employer complies with the data protection principles in the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap 486). In practice, it is strongly recommended that an employer that intends to carry out drug/substance abuse testing develop and implement a drug/substance abuse testing policy and make that policy accessible to employees.

Singapore/China/Myanmar
There is no applicable law in relation to workplace drug testing

India
There is no specific law that deals with this matter. Drug tests may take place if this is contractually agreed to with the employee.

Japan
Drug test is permissible in Japan provided that it is done with the employee’s consent and for a legitimate business-related purpose.

South Korea
There is no specific legislation or guidance in relation to drug/substance abuse testing.

Thailand
There is no restriction on drug/substance testing under Thai law. However, consent is required to comply with the Personal Data Protection Act BE 2561 (2019) (PDPA) with respect to the processing of personal information.

In general, employers should always check the law in each particular jurisdiction in which they operate. Although drug and alcohol testing requirements vary by country, there are some good practices for all employers to consider.

  • A joint assessment by employers, workers, and their representatives of the effects of alcohol and drug use on the workplace and their cooperation in developing a written policy for the enterprise.
  • Define alcohol and drug-related problems as health problems and establishes the need to deal with them, without any discrimination, like any other health problem at work
  • Have written policies that set out testing parameters. Set out types of testing that will be conducted (where permitted), and levels of discipline associated with positive tests. Include information regarding prevention, counseling, and treatment where appropriate;
  • Ensure that employees’ privacy is being respected and that all privacy controls are firmly in place
  • Ensure that the least-intrusive means of testing are being used