The Thomson Reuters 2nd annual Managing Drugs & Alcohol in the Workplace Conference is taking place in August in Brisbane at Brisbane Hilton and Online.

Drug and alcohol addictions among employees can be an expensive problem for employers, with issues ranging from lost productivity, absenteeism, injury, rising health cost and workers' compensation costs.

The conference will cover the evolving legal requirements, how to provide a safe work environment and best practices in preventive strategies for drugs and alcohol in the workplace. The conference aims to help you meet the legal obligations and foster best practices workplace cultures that keeps employees safe. The conference will provide both legal advisor and HR, WHS and Wellness practitioner with pragmatic, practical guidance on range of current and contentious issues.

We look forward to you joining us.

For any event enquiries, please email

Dates & Locations

Brisbane 19 August 2022
Venue: Hilton Brisbane Livestream 19 August 2022

Your investment


Early Bird* $650 + GST

Full price $750 + GST


Early Bird* $595 + GST

Full price $695 + GST

*Early bird closes 8 July 2022

Register now



Welcome from the Chair

Susan Moriarty, Principal, Susan Moriarty & Associates


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

This session will cover the laws relating to drug and alcohol use in the workplace including 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 judicial trends, awards and any policy issues that require specific attention.

Liam Fraser, Partner, Kingston Reid


Developing a drug and alcohol policy – balancing legal and practical considerations

A good drug and alcohol policy can be an invaluable tool for managing health and safety in your workplace, provided any such policy is implemented fairly and administrated reasonably to balance employees’ rights with employers’ obligations.

  • What circumstances should a policy cover?
  • Who should be included?
  • How to effectively consult with employees and unions
  • Privacy considerations

Edmund Burke, Partner, Holding Redlich




Drugs and alcohol testing: critical issues and considerations

  • Overview of testing: what are the benefits and drawbacks of each testing methodology?
  • Best practices in testing
  • What happens when there is a non-negative result?
  • Issues with sample collection and analysis processing
  • Mandatory and random testing implications and issues
  • Considerations for high-risk industries such as Civil Aviation Safety Authority and mining

Dr Sid O’Toole, Occupational and Environmental Physician and Medical Review Officer, Phoenix Occupational Medicine


Pre-employment screening for drugs and alcohol: reducing risk and ensuring equitable and non-discriminatory hiring practices

Pre-employment medical assessments for drugs and alcohol can be a workforce risk management tool to screen individuals for risk factors that may impact their ability to perform a job safely and effectively. This session will discuss:

  • Implementing testing programs in accordance with legal guidelines
  • Preventing legal challenges to hiring practices
  • What are the employee obligations for disclosure?
  • What are the rights of employer to conduct pre-employment screening?
  • Preventing unlawful discrimination in hiring

Tom Reaburn, Senior Associate, McCullough Robertson


Lunch and networking break


Fit for Work, rehabilitation, and facilitating return to work

Increasingly, employers are taking proactive steps to address drug or alcohol problems by establishing or promoting programs focused on improving health. By encouraging and supporting treatment, employers can dramatically assist in reducing the negative impact of addiction in the workplace and improving workplace engagement, while reducing their costs.

  • Identifying and managing alcohol and drug related problems
  • Workplace policies and fitness for work procedures
  • Rehabilitation and facilitating return to work

Dr Nicole Lee, CEO 360Edge and Adjunct Professor National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University


What are the disciplinary options available when a drug and alcohol test has been failed

  • When can an employee be dismissed for being affected by illicit drugs or alcohol at work?
  • If an employee returns a positive sample to a test what are the disciplinary actions?
  • If an employee refuses to undertake reasonable testing in line with their employment obligations what are the next steps?
  • What are the disciplinary options available to employers – warnings, dismissal, rehabilitation, training
  • Steps to minimise a successful unfair dismissal, adverse action or discrimination claim when taking disciplinary action

Wendy Fauvel, Executive Counsel, Herbert Smith Freehills


Networking and refreshment break


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

Managing long term absences in the workplace is difficult and sensitive when concerning drug and alcohol issues. The session will help you understand your rights and responsibilities including:

  • Managing and supervising absenteeism
  • Assessing an employee’s fitness to work
  • Issuing formal warnings
  • Dealing with employees who refuse or are unwilling to return to work and lessons from recent cases

Alanna Fitzpatrick, Special Counsel, K&L Gates


Christmas parties and after hours work functions

Social gatherings such as Christmas parties, after work drinks and client events all feature alcohol in the workplace - How do you navigate the behaviour that occurs while employees are ‘off the clock’ but still socialising together ‘at work’. To explore this topic:

  • What does ‘at work’ mean?
  • Out of hours conduct – drugs and alcohol, when is it appropriate and how should it be served?
  • Case law – what are the recent lessons?
  • What happens when an employer disciplines an employee for drug or alcohol use in the workplace?

Rohan Tate, Associate, Maurice Blackburn


Closing remarks from the chair and end of conference