Refusing to take a post-incident drug test

If a worker won’t co-operate with drug and alcohol testing, what can an employer do?
By Colin Gibson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/27/2017

Question: When an employer has post-incident drug and alcohol testing, can an employee be disciplined for refusing to take a test the same as if the test was positive?

Answer: An employer does not have a general right to subject employees to drug and alcohol testing. However, drug and alcohol testing policies may be implemented and enforced if the policy reflects an appropriate balancing of interests, between the employer’s duty to provide a safe workplace and an employee’s privacy rights: See Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, Local 30 v. Irving Pulp & Paper Ltd.

In Irving Pulp & Paper, the Supreme Court noted that when a workplace is dangerous, employers are generally entitled to test employees who occupy safety-sensitive positions, if there is “reasonable cause” to believe the employee is impaired while on duty, has been directly involved in a workplace accident or significant incident, or is returning to work after treatment for substance abuse.