In support to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III reminded establishments of strict compliance to DOLE’s Department Order No. 53-03 (D.O. 53-03) or the Guidelines for Implementation of a Drug-Free Workplace Policies and Programs for the Private Sector.

“This Department Order, which calls for random drug testing of employees, applies to all establishments in the private sector, including their contractors and concessionaires,” Bello said.

As mandated by D.O. 53-03, Secretary Bello said workplace policies and programs on drug abuse prevention and control adopted by companies must include advocacy, education and training; drug testing program for officers and employees; treatment, rehabilitation and referral; and monitoring and evaluation

“As required under the D.O., a random drug test must be conducted by the employers to their employees and officials, and its schedule must be unannounced, with each employee having an equal chance of being selected for testing,” Bello said.

The DOLE’s Bureau of Working Conditions reported that out of the 36,002 establishments assessed under the Labor Laws Compliance System, 29,607 or 82.24 percent of the establishments were found to have drug-free workplace policies in place.

Secretary Bello said the establishments that are yet to comply with the policy can request for assistance from the DOLE Regional Offices and their respective Labor Laws Compliance Officers in crafting the program guidelines as mandated by DO 53-03.

However, DOLE also enjoins establishments with less than 10 workers to formulate and adopt drug-free policies and programs.

Under the DOLE Drug-Free Workplace Policy and Program, there are two circumstances wherein employers can subject their employees to a mandatory drug test. These are the ‘for cause testing’ and the ‘post-accident testing.’

‘For cause testing’ takes place when the company may ask an officer/employee to submit to a drug test at any time it feels that the employee may be under the influence of drugs.

‘Post-accident testing’, on the other hand, is allowed in two situations: the ‘near-miss’ and the ‘work-accident’ circumstance.

‘Near miss’ refers to an incident arising from or in the course of work that could have led to injuries or fatalities of the workers and/or considerable damage to the employer had it not been curtailed.

‘Work-accident’ circumstance, on the other hand, refers to unplanned or unexpected occurrence which may or may not result in personal injury, property damage, work stoppage or interference, or any combination thereof, which arises out of and in the course of employment.

All drug tests shall employ the screening and confirmatory tests. When the confirmatory test turns positive, the company’s Assessment Team shall evaluate the results and determine the level of care and administrative interventions that can be extended to the concerned employee.

Under the rules, should the officer/employee turn out positive during drug test, it does not mean that the officer or employee shall be dismissed right away from work. The DOLE Drug-Free Workplace Policy and Program states that an officer/employee who, for the first time, is found positive of drug use, shall be referred for treatment and/or rehabilitation in a DOH accredited center.

Following rehabilitation, the company’s Assessment Team may recommend to the employer the resumption of the employee’s job if he/she poses no serious danger to his/her co-employees and/or the workplace.

All costs for the treatment and rehabilitation of the drug dependent employee shall be charged to his account. The period during which the employee is under treatment or rehabilitation shall be considered as authorized leaves.

However, repeated drug use, even after ample opportunity for treatment and rehabilitation, shall be dealt with the corresponding penalties under R.A. 9165 and is a ground for dismissal.

Violations of DO 53-03 may be punished criminally under Article II of RA 9165 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, or administratively under Article 297 of the Labor Code, as renumbered.

DOLE released D.O. 53-03 on 14 August 2003, which mandated for the intensified campaign for drug-free workplaces. This is also in response to the directive contained in Republic Act No. 9165 (RA 9165) or Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 which directed the DOLE to develop, promote and implement a national drug abuse prevention program in the workplace to be adopted by private companies with 10 or more employees.


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