Dutch employers break law to drug test workers, push for it to be made legal

A new study has found that thousands of workers in the Netherlands are illegally tested for drug use. 

The Netherlands may be known internationally for liberal attitudes to weed and party drugs — but when it comes to the workplaces, it’s the employers who are breaking the rules.

According to Dutch law, only drivers, skippers, and pilots are allowed to be subject to random drug testing. When this does happen, the test should be carried out by a company doctor and the results should remain confidential.

However, there are many cases of other companies testing their workers — without adhering to these conditions. In these cases, it’s often the company’s security guards who carry out the tests, or other external testing companies will be brought in.

This information came to light following an investigative report by Trouw, De Groene Amsterdammer and De Stentor on the research journalism platform, Investico.

Testing at meat processing company

The report looked at the results of such illegal testing at a meat processing company. The tests showed that a lot of drugs are used by migrant workers who must perform repetitive and heavy work.

The results found that 6.5% of employees had used marijuana, 5% had used hard drugs and 2.6% had consumed alcohol.

Some of the Polish employees who work at the company confirmed to investigators that employees sometimes use speed in order to work more quickly. The quicker they worked, the more they would be rewarded by their employer.

Illegal but let’s break the taboo

One of the companies involved in the investigation, Arbofit, admitted that they test their employees illegally and offered up their results. They did this because they believe the taboo around testing employees should be lifted.

A spokesperson for Arbofit also told the investigators that they value the health and safety of their employees over privacy laws. “On behalf of the customer, we let health and safety prevail over privacy rules. Employees have the right to work safely.”

Could this be allowed in future?

The Netherlands may allow for employees to be drug tested by their companies in the future. The VNO-NCW and MKB Nederland (employer’s organizations) have been advocating for the legal testing of workers for quite some time now.

Currently, the Dutch government has been working on expanding the law to allow for the testing of those working in the chemical industry in the Netherlands.

Do you believe workers should be tested for drugs by their employers? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below! 

Feature Image: Martin Lopez/Pexels

Sarah O'Leary
Sarah O'Leary
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.


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