Ethical Issues in Workplace Drug testing in Europe

To guide employers and workers through the dilemmas surrounding the issue of WDT, in 1993 the ILO instituted a tripartite meeting of experts which resulted in the creation of the ILO Guiding Principles on Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace. They were published as an annex to the ILO Code of Practice on the management of alcohol- and drug-related issues in the workplace. Despite the controversies surrounding WDT, laboratories carrying out tests, for example in Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom report ever increasing demands for their services. Given the wide range of sensitive issues involved, WDT is handled in a variety of ways in European countries. This paper will give an overview of the ethical questions concerning WDT and related arguments for and against testing. It will include some impressions of the current extent of WDT in different European countries and how the level and frequency of testing is connected with the ethical stance. The paper will also summarize the outcomes and pose certain questions on the more controversial aspects for discussion in the workshop.

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