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The GSD notes the Government’s latest policy implementation announcement for drug and alcohol abuse testing within the RGP, together with, the Government’s intention to extend this policy across all Government departments, agencies and authorities.

The GSD remains of the view that random testing should be carried out in essential services and public sector posts which are in direct dealings with vulnerable persons, including young children. It also advocates that such random testing should be fully independent and free of any potential interference, it should therefore be implemented via a computer programme, in order to ensure the process is fully independent, open and transparent.

GSD Shadow Minister for Health, Care, Drugs and Rehabilitation, Lawrence Llamas said “We agree there is a need to identify and support persons with substance and/or alcohol abuse issues, this must happen under a strict confidential set up where employee’s privacy is fully protected.

Additionally, we believe there is a need to build this framework independent from Government, in order to manage cases where employees have displayed behavioural issues or when employees are not performing to a satisfactory standard, which may or may not be attributable to substance/alcohol misuse as there are other equally important factors such as mental illness, bullying or personal issues which may equally require the additional care and support. We will therefore remain cautious and vigilant with regards to the subjective “testing with cause” as it is implemented.

We do nevertheless welcome the other two policy criteria set out for the RGP and civilian staff, however, we believe particular prioritisation should be given to care workers and nurses who provide services to the elderly, persons with disabilities, sick persons and children, who are not employees of the Government. It is important to ensure that these workers are included in the alcohol and substance misuse programme, together with ensuring new entrants are subjected to testing upon entry.

We would therefore urge Government to refine the criteria in consultation with all the unions and publish when ready the list of identified posts which will be included in the programme.”