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Last updated: 21.06.2023

Drug testing before and during employment

Employers have the right to request a drug test report from a new hire or current worker in certain situations.

During recruitment, employers must inform the applicants if the chosen applicant will be required to submit a drug test report. Workers are not obligated to submit the report, but the employer has the right to reject applicants who refuse to submit the report. 

The employer has a right to request a drug test report from the chosen applicant if the worker’s duties require the following: 

  • precision 
  • dependability 
  • independent judgement 
  • quick reactions. 

In addition, the nature of the worker’s duties must be such that working under the influence of or addicted to drugs would: 

  • risk the life of the worker or a bystander 
  • compromise national defence or state security 
  • compromise traffic safety 
  • increase the risk of major environmental damage 
  • compromise the information security of information received as part of work, damaging public interests protected by confidentiality regulations or jeopardising the privacy protection or other rights of data subjects 
  • compromise business and trade secrets or cause non-minor financial damage to the employer or the employer’s customer, posing a risk that cannot be eliminated by other means. 

Drug test report 

The worker personally delivers the drug test report from the occupational health service to the employer. The report may only state that the worker has been tested for drugs and if they have used drugs for purposes other than medical in a way that compromises the worker’s work or functional ability. 

Information regarding drug test reports is considered sensitive health data, and its processing and storage is subject to the same requirements as other health data. 

The worker may challenge a positive test result (drugs detected) and request an analysis of their secondary sample within 30 days of the confirmed positive result. 

Drug testing during employment 

If the changes to a worker’s job description during their employment meet the requirements for a drug test, their employer may request the test and report. If the worker fails to submit the drug test report, they may be given a warning or dismissed. 

If the employer has good cause to suspect that a worker is addicted to drugs or working under their influence, the employer may investigate the worker’s work and functional ability by ordering a drug test. 

In this case, the worker’s duties must require special precision, dependability, independent judgement, or quick reactions. In addition, the duties must be such that working while addicted to or under the influence of drugs would seriously endanger life and limb or pose the risk of other major damage. Stricter criteria are used during employment than recruitment. 

If drugs were detected by the test (positive result), the employer may require follow-up tests if the worker commits to treatment as a condition for continued employment. 

Substance abuse prevention programme 

According to the Occupational Health Care Act, a written substance abuse prevention programme (päihdeohjelma) is required for drug testing. The programme must be prepared in cooperation with the workers. 

The substance abuse prevention programme covers the workplace’s practices for preventing substance abuse and referring substance abusers to treatment. 

The positions that require a drug test report must be defined in industrial cooperation in the workplace. These positions must be listed in the occupational healthcare action plan as well. A need for the employer to examine the general dependability of their workers is not a valid reason for drug testing. 

Drug testing as part of a health examination 

According to the Occupational Health Care Act, the occupational health service may perform drug testing as part of work ability evaluations, among other things. In this case, the occupational health service determines the need for the test, not the employer. The occupational health service may not send drug test reports to the employer – they only issue a general statement of the worker’s work ability and fitness for duty.  

This type of testing is allowed without a written substance abuse prevention programme. 

Drug testing legislation