The phrase “drug-free workplace” is rather common, and for good reason. Some of the requirements of maintaining a drug-free workplace include promoting your drug free status when you post a job opening as well as creating a drug free workplace policy that educates your employees on the importance of remaining drug-free while at work. These elements alone are enough to inform and educate many of America’s working adults. But the question is often asked, “Does drug-free workplace mean drug testing?”
It’s a compelling question with a somewhat complex answer. Before we answer, let’s start with a little background.
What is the purpose of the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988?
The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (41 U.S.C. 81) is a United States Act that requires Federal contract grantees and contractors to provide a drug-free workplace before they can receive a grant or contract from an agency of the Federal Government.
Achieving a drug-free workplace can be an arduous task for a large organization. Meanwhile, for an individual contractor or small grantee organization, the process might be a bit easier. You see, to maintain a drug-free workplace, the requirements of the Drug-Free Workplace Act can vary based on whether the contractor or grantee is an organization that employs many people or is an individual with no other employees.
Organizations with employees are required to take comprehensive actions to achieve a workplace that is free of drugs. Among those actions is the creation of a drug-free workplace policy.
What is a drug free workplace policy?
A drug-free workplace policy is a written document that is typically part of the employee handbook that states that the organization intends to help provide a safe and drug-free work environment for their clients and employees.
The policy should include a list of prohibited activities, behaviors, or conditions. For example, a drug-free workplace policy might state that the use or possession of narcotics or other illegal drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication without a prescription on company or client premises is strictly prohibited.
Further, the policy might state that employees are required to perform their jobs without being impaired by or under the influence of an illegal substance or alcohol, even if they ingested the substance outside of work.
Those concerned about drug testing at work should know that the policy should also state the type of drug testing the company or organization will conduct as part of employment. This type of testing might include pre-employment drug testing or random testing where employees might be selected to submit a 5-panel drug test or 10-panel drug test. Another type of testing is “for-cause drug testing” or reasonable suspicion drug testing; this may be conducted if the company has suspicion an employee might be under the influence of a drug or alcohol. Finally, there will likely be “post-accident testing” for times when an employee is involved in an on-the-job accident.
While laws can vary from state to state, it’s clear that the answer to “does drug free workplace mean drug testing?” is yes. Drug testing is a key component of maintaining a drug-free workplace.
But, you might be wondering…
Can you refuse to take a drug test at work?
As an employee of a company, you have the right to refuse to take a drug test at work. And the company you work for might have the right to fire you. Also, it’s unlikely that you’ll have a legal leg to stand on if you refuse to take a drug test in a drug-free workplace. It’s worth mentioning that you might also be denied unemployment benefits in this case as well and perhaps worker comp benefits after an accident if you refuse the post-accident drug test.
To find out what employers might be looking for in a drug test for employment, visit this page.