Pompidou Group - Combating drug abuse and drug trafficking

Drug testing in schools and at the workplace

In March 2008, the platform adopted an Opinion on the practice of drug testing at school, at the workplace and on recruitment which finalised the work started in 2004.

A publication was then produced (September 2008) with all the reports prepared in the course of this work, in particular a report on drug testing in schools in European countries and an inventory of European national legislations on drug testing in the workplace.

See the Opinion
Drug testing at school

In the course of their examination, the experts endeavoured to determine the relationship between the testing and the combating of drugs, and whether testing might have a preventive function. This function being unproven, they stress that testing does not shield a young person from being caught up, at some point in time, in a situation of psychoactive substance abuse, and are anxious about the risk of stigmatisation and exclusion. They recall that teachers are vested with an educational mission which is meant to provide knowledge and assistance in the child’s maturation process, and are not designated for a function of policing. They conclude that the precautionary principle cannot justify what they regard as an infringement of pupils’ personal integrity.
Drug testing in the workplace

The Platform considers that testing may be akin to an invasion of the worker’s privacy, even though the dangerousness to the worker personally, as well as to co-workers, of being under the influence of a psychoactive substance could possibly warrant such testing. It recommends in this connection that States adopt common rules for determining occupations carrying a risk. It considers that the precautionary principle invariably justifies referral to the occupational medicine department, where there is doubt as to the worker’s fitness, and stresses confidentiality in order to safeguard his or her private life. It accordingly encourages States to legislate on the independence and professional secrecy of occupational medicine.
Testing on recruitment

The Platform considers this all the more serious an interference with fundamental rights given that international conventions unexceptionally recognise in principle each person’s right to work and prohibit discriminatory recruitment. It points out the risk of stigmatisation and recalls that unemployment may become a factor triggering problematic consumption.