Drug Free Policy Development
Employers often ask us, do I need a drug free workplace policy? The answer is most often yes, but there are many different circumstances as to why.
Why would I need a drug free workplace written policy?
- Required by Federal regulations – all DOT regulated employers
- Required because you have a Federal Grant or you have a Federal Contract
- Required by a State law or State agency regulations
- Required by a State program granting you a discount on workers compensation insurance
- Contractual requirement based on requirements from a Company you do business with
- Required by your workers compensation insurance company
- Because you want to limit exposure to liability in your drug testing program
- To deny unemployment benefits when you terminate an employee for a refusal to test or a positive test
- To deny workers compensation benefits when an employee after an accident refuses to test or tests positive
So you have decided that a drug free workplace policy is a good idea, where do you start. This can be an overwhelming project. If the policy is required by some sort of Federal or State regulations, then you start with those regulations. You can always start with hiring a professional drug free workplace consultant who writes drug free workplace policies all the time. Bottom line in all drug free workplace policy situations, management has to make some decisions about the drug free workplace policy.
A great resource is provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is called Making Your Workplace Drug-Fee: A Kit for Employers.
Establish goals for your drug free workplace, a best practice is to have a policy that creates cost-effective, safe, and healthy workplaces. The main goal and outcome, which is most obvious, is to reduce or eliminate workplace drug use
The written policy is the foundation of a drug-free workplace program. It establishes the who, what, where and how of your drug testing program. Very important in the program is to identify clearly the specific consequences of violating the policy with a positive test or a refusal to test.
Policies should also inform employees on how to get help if they have a substance abuse problem. Establishing an employee assistance program is critical to the success of the program. This may be a formal program often connected to health insurance or an informal program listing resources for employees that may want to seek help.
Policy Key Elements
The key elements of a good drug free workplace policy as follows:
- How does the organization define substance abuse?
- What employee behaviors are expected?
- Exactly what substances and behaviors are prohibited?
- Who is covered by the policy?
- When will the policy apply? (For example, will it apply during work hours only, or also during organization-sponsored events after hours?)
- Where will the policy apply? (For example, will it apply in the workplace, outside the workplace while workers are on duty, in organization-owned vehicles while workers are off duty?)
- Who is responsible for carrying out and enforcing the policy?
- What types of drug and alcohol testing will be required?
- Are any employees covered by the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, and, if so, how do the terms affect the way the policy will be carried out and enforced for those employees?