Can I refuse to take a test to see whether I have been using illegal drugs, or am under the influence of alcohol?

Your employer has no automatic legal right to test you for drug or alcohol abuse, but you may have expressly given your permission to testing when you signed your written contract of employment.

Whether your employer can discipline or dismiss you for refusing a test will depend, among other factors, on the nature of your work.

Where your employer keeps records of such tests, it must comply with the data handling rules issued by the Information Commissioner – for example, it will only be able to hold data for a limited time and in a secure environment.

You can find information about this in the Information Commissioner’s Quick Guide to the Employment Practices Code (PDF, 168KB). See section 6: 'Information about Workers' Health'.

Also see the TUC's guidance on Drug testing in the workplace.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.