Drug and alcohol policy on-farm


4 min read

Developing a drug and alcohol policy Drug testing in your business Good employment practices If you suspect someone under the influence Support and rehabilitation Drugs in accomodation Who else can help? Additional resources

Health and safety is a shared commitment. All those in the workplace are responsible for identifying concerns about an individual’s immediate risk, the ability of an individual to perform their job, and operate safely in the workplace. If someone is under the influence of drugs, including the misuse of prescription drugs or alcohol in the workplace, their performance is likely to drop and they could pose a significant safety risk to themselves, others, animals, and your business.

The following information will help you as an employer know and understand the basics. However, this is an area where specialist help is often required, and we advise that you seek this to ensure your policies and actions are appropriate for your situation.

Developing a drug and alcohol policy for your farm

A drug and alcohol policy sets out a set of rules or guidelines for your organisation and employees to follow, outlining everyone’s role and what would happen if people were alleged to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol at work. The policy must be developed carefully, so it applies fairly and equally across your organisation.

New employees should be made aware of the policy, and a signed copy should be kept showing they have read and understood it. For existing employees, the policy should be implemented in consultation with them.

Refer to Employment New Zealand for further information on what a drug and alcohol policy may include.

Using drug testing in your business

You must comply with the legal requirements if you want to implement drug testing as part of your workplace policies. Please refer to Employment New Zealand for further information on what to consider.

In all cases, ensure you have aligned your testing methods and procedures with your drug and alcohol policy and the relevant clauses in individual employment agreements.

Good employment practices

The best way to minimise the risk of drug or alcohol issues affecting your business is to have a strong health and safety culture, together with robust employment practices in place. This starts when first recruiting someone into your business.

  • During the hiring process, you may choose to use an information disclosure form. These provide written confirmation of the employee’s details and usually include a statement about being truthful with the information they have provided during the recruitment process.
  • If you are planning to complete drug testing, it should be a term in the employment agreement with reference to all relevant policies that must be adhered to.
  • If you are providing accommodation as part of your employment agreement, you have an obligation as a landlord to provide a clean and habitable property. Ensure you include a clause about testing the house for drug contamination in your tenancy agreement. We recommend testing the house between tenants. More information on this can be found on the Tenancy Services website.
  • During the onboarding process, discuss the relevant policies and procedures, including your workplace drug and alcohol policy and who to talk to if they suspect that someone else may be under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

What to do if you suspect someone is under the influence

  • Consider the information you are acting on; where did it come from, is it plausible
  • Determine if it is safe to approach the person. If not, seek help from a people and employment advisor or police.
  • If it is safe and you suspect the person is still under the influence of a drug or alcohol, ensure their safety. Take them to a quiet place with fresh air. Sit them in a comfortable position and help keep them calm.
  • Inform them what will happen next, in line with your drug and alcohol policy.
  • Ensure they have a safe way to leave the property. If not, arrange safe transport from work to the employee's home.
  • Complete appropriate drug testing through a licensed provider. Most medical centres will also offer workplace drug testing services.
  • Once drug testing results have been received, complete a thorough investigation, as you would with any employment issue. For more information, see the disciplinary process webpage.
  • Depending on the result, decide the best course of action. Consider education, rehabilitation and disciplinary action. Ensure that you comply with your drug and alcohol policy and employment agreement clauses.
  • We strongly advise that you seek professional advice through this process.

Support and rehabilitation

In some instances, offering additional support and/or rehabilitation may help an employee overcome drug or alcohol issues. There is no legal requirement for an employee to take up such offers.

When a positive drug test has been returned, and the employee commits to a rehabilitation programme, the expectations of each party should be carefully documented, with the help of an advisor.

Here are some details on what rehabilitation and support is available.

Drugs in accommodation

The manufacturing and use of drugs in accommodation can have long lasting effects. Clean-ups are costly and there is potential for severe health problems to arise for residents living in a contaminated house.

Refer to the Tenancy Services website for what to do if you believe that drugs are being used, manufactured or sold in rental accommodation.

Who else can help?

Research your local area for providers of workplace alcohol and drug testing services. You need to have confidence that the service offered meets your expectations regarding quality and availability. Your policy can then be developed and/or implemented in a manner consistent with that provider’s usual process. Make sure you look for companies that have IANZ (International Accreditation of NZ) accreditation or that state they test to AS/NZS 4308:2008 Australian/New Zealand standard.

Last updated: Apr 2024

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