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Drugs & Alcohol in the Workplace Conference

Managing Drugs & Alcohol in the Workplace Conference


Drugs and Alcohol at Work- Everybody’s Business

Drug and alcohol use and abuse are common features of many Australian workplaces. Risks for employees, their colleagues and the business are well understood, but getting the right policies and preventions in place which will keep the workplace safe and productive, is a much greater challenge. Making sure the rights and freedoms of workers are preserved and that Christmas parties and other work social functions are still enjoyable, only add to the complexity of developing the right hiring, firing, testing, management and prevention regimes. The Thompson Reuters workshop, Drugs and Alcohol at Work- Everybody’s Business, brings together a range of experts: leading lawyers, HR practitioners and clinicians, to deliver the best and most up to date advice and be tested with your questions. Not to be missed.



Welcome Address by the Chair

The Honourable Pru Goward, AO


The physical application of testing.

An informative session delivered by Queensland Medical Laboratories Chief Toxicologist, Dr Charles Appleton that explores what drugs the labs routinely test, what do these drugs do to the body, the psyche and performance/impairment, and what is the difference and applicability between initial screening and laboratory confirmation.

Dr Charles Appleton, Chief Toxicologist, Queensland Medical Laboratories



Developing a Robust Alcohol and Other Drugs Policy for the Australian Workplace

A drug and alcohol policy might form part of an organisation's overall employee well-being or “fitness for work” strategic program and become embedded within a larger program or alternatively it might exist as a related yet separate entity with its own policy and procedure documents. The development of a sound, legally defensible policy is reliant on understanding the strategic drivers of the safety environment and the place that an AOD policy will fit within the larger safety environment within the organisation. In this presentation, Fit4Duty’s Group General Manager, Scott Osborne provides us with an overview of both the strategy and policy components of Alcohol and other Drugs testing in a modern organisation.

  • The Compliance Framework:

  • Forensic Science

  • Quality Assurance

  • Industrial Relations, Human Resources and Contractor Management

  • Legal Defensibility

  • Policy Development:

  • Policy Checklist -

  • Mistakes and Missteps

Scott Osborne, Group General Manager, Fit4Duty



What are the laws covering drug and alcohol use in the workplace in 2023?

This session will cover the application of laws relating to drug and alcohol use in the workplace including those in relation to work health and safety, employment, privacy and anti-discrimination. A review of the latest cases in these areas will also help you gain insights into the implications of drugs and alcohol usage in the workplace, including:

  • The significant impact that illicit drugs and alcohol used during, and outside work hours can have on work health and safety;
  • The vicarious liability of employers when employees use illicit drugs and alcohol during and outside work hours;
  • Employers’ rights and ability to infringe upon their employees’ privacy to monitor illicit drugs and alcohol use; and
  • Whether an employee can be dismissed for being affected by illicit drugs or alcohol at work?

Liam Fraser, Partner, Kingston Reid


11:00AM - Morning tea



Panel Session: What would you do if?


12:20PM - Lunch


The emerging issue of Medical Cannabis in the workplace 

Medicinal cannabis has become prevalent in many workplaces and many employers are wrestling with an appropriate policy response that respects the rights of the individual worker whilst also securing the safety of the workplace.  In session, Scott Osborne returns to provide some strategy and policy frameworks to tackle this issue.

  • How the law interfaces with AOD policy
  • Discrimination and AOD Policy
  • Typical formulation of Medicinal Cannabis
  • Typical concerns about medicinal cannabis
  • Medicinal Cannabis in the testing process
  • Response summary

Scott Osborne, Group General Manager, Fit4Duty



Deep dive into the contentious issues of the employers rights to drugs and alcohol testing and associated consequences.

Kate Walawski - Barrister



Managing sick leave and long-term absences from the workplace due to drug and alcohol issues

This session will provide an outline of the legal position with respect to managing workplace absenteeism associated with drug and alcohol use and addiction issues, taking into account considerations from an employment law, discrimination and workplace safety perspective, and canvassing issues including:


  • An employee’s right to access leave entitlements, including rules around notification and documentation requirements
  • Temporary absence protections
  • Discrimination protections and the prohibition against adverse action
  • Assessing an employee’s capacity to perform the inherent requirements of their role
  • Reasonable adjustments, including providing support for access to rehabilitation.
  • Interaction with WHS/OHS laws
  • Termination of employment

Elizabeth Radley, Partner, Moray & Agnew and Madelaine August, Partner, Moray & Agnew



Hypothetical Case Situation: Drinks in the Office

Hypothetical Case Situation: Employee denies using drugs ends up in accident and tests positive



Close of Conference by Chair

The Honourable Pru Goward, AO


For event enquiries, please email

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