Baguio City – Since becoming Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment in June 30, 2016, Atty. Silvestre H. Bello III, in support to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s “War on Drugs, Criminality and Corruption, and in response to the rising problem of alcohol and drug abuse in the workplace has directed all DOLE Offices including Regional Offices, Bureaus, Services and Attached Agencies to strengthen the campaign against illegal drugs and contribute to the President’s efforts to counter the country’s drug problem. It requires the unified action of all DOLE agencies. Drug abuse is a serious problem that pervades all levels of the society particularly the Filipino workforce.

The Department will strictly implement a drug-free policy to ensure that workplaces are free from the detrimental effects of drug abuse. Drug problem poses not only security and health problems, but also social, economic, psychological, and economic problems.

DOLE Department Order 53-03, Series of 2003, otherwise known as Guidelines for the Implementation of a Drug-free Workplace Policies and Programs for the Private Sector, to assist both the employers and employees in the formulation of company policies and programs to achieve a drug-free workplace. The department order was issued in compliance with Article V of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The department order mandates all private establishments employing 10 or more workers to formulate and implement drug-abuse prevention and control programs in the workplace, including the formulation and adoption of company policies against dangerous drug use. In the same manner, establishments employing less than 10 employees are, likewise, encouraged to formulate and adopt the same policies.

It also directs employers to increase the awareness and education of company officers and employees on the adverse effects of dangerous drugs through continuous advocacy, education and training programs/activities. It also provides for a treatment, rehabilitation and referral program for employees found to be positive for drug use.

In implementing this program, the employers are mandatorily required to conduct random drug testing. Random drug testing is done when officers and employers are tested at random intervals without prior notice. Similarly, employers may also require drug testing as a condition for pre-employment.

Two testing methods are required to be observed by the employees, namely, the screening test and the confirmatory test. The screening test determines the positive result, as well as the type of the drug used. This is the first test to ascertain whether an employee is under the influence of drugs. On the other hand, the confirmatory test is a measure employed to affirm a positive screening test. An employee initially found to be negative in the screening tests need not undergo confirmatory test. In other words, a confirmatory test applies only to those employees found to be initially positive during the screening test.

The conduct of drug testing, however, should only be performed by duly accredited centers of the Department of Health (DOH). It is worth stressing that failure to follow the proper drug-testing method cannot be given credence and will result in illegal dismissal.

Employees found to be positive for drug use constitutes serious misconduct and may even be a ground for termination of employment. In the same manner, an employee who refuses to undergo random drug testing may be guilty of insubordination for refusal to follow company rules and regulations. Under the law, these instances constitute just causes for dismissal.

In order to validly dismiss an employee, the employer is still required to observe both substantive and procedural due process. Hence, termination must only be made after the employee is accorded due notice and hearing. Otherwise, the dismissal shall be rendered illegal.

This drug-free policy has long been issued by the DOLE. It now comes to the strict adherence and implementation by employers in the private sector to ensure a safe working environment.

For more information on Workplace policies and programs on drug abuse prevention and control, visit www.dole.gov.ph or www.oshc.gov.ph and facts about illegal drugs, it’s effect and anti-drug laws visit www.pdea.gov.ph / Patrick T Rillorta