The Membertou First Nation is abandoning part of its mandatory drug-testing policy, saying it wants to balance the need to protect the community with the rights of its employees.

Chief Terry Paul said the band has dropped pre-employment drug testing and random tests for workers who must be alert, such as people who work with children.

"We want to ensure that we consider the rights of people," Paul told the Cape Breton Post.

Membertou will continue to test people in sensitive safety-related positions if they think someone is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the chief said.

The mandatory drug-testing policy was designed to target workers who handle large sums of money and those whose jobs involve safety concerns. Anyone with a positive test faces a 24-hour suspension.

The band council has said the policy is not a response to a current drug problem, but rather is a proactive approach.

After the drug-testing policy came into effect earlier this month, the chief's son, John Bonham Paul, posted signs at his home stating, "Say no to corporate bullying."

He said he worried that people would turn to harder drugs such as cocaine and crack, which he said disappear from a user's system faster than alcohol or marijuana, thus making them harder to detect on a drug test.

John Bonham Paul, a fishing boat captain, said the policy seemed acceptable for someone in his job, but not for teenagers working at concession stands.

There are 500 people working at the Membertou reserve in Cape Breton.