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Do you need a Drug Testing Policy?

20 Jan 2016

... Drug Testing Policy, Drug Free Workplace Program, Substance Abuse Policy

We get questions about drug free workplace policies all the time such as:

How can I set up a drug free workplace policy?
Can you help me set up a drug testing policy?
Can you help me set up my drug free workplace program?
Can you take a look at my drug testing policy and tell me if I am compliant and on safe legal ground?

The answer to all of these questions is yes, National Drug Screening specializes in helping companies and employers navigate through the entire drug free workplace program process.  If you are conducting drug testing and do not have a drug free workplace policy or drug testing policy, you need one.  If your drug free workplace policy or drug testing policy is 10+ years old, it really needs to be revised or perhaps you start with a new fresh drug free workplace policy or drug testing policy.

Why have a drug free workplace policy or drug testing policy?     

Substance abuse in the United States is serious with over 23 million Americans admitting to using illicit drugs.  Are you employing these drug users?  Perhaps no because you have implemented drug testing but what do you do when your employee tests positive for a drug test?  There is where a policy becomes so important so you know what to.  You also want to be on safe legal ground when it comes to drug testing and avoid exposure to liability.  Without drug free workplace policy or drug testing policy you are at risk.  There are State laws and Federal laws that must be adhered to and these can be addressed when creating the drug free workplace policy or drug testing policy.  The policy also helps when you have an unemployment claim when firing an employee for a positive drug test and also for potential denial of workers comp claims after a positive post-accident drug or alcohol est.  

Employers with comprehensive drug free workplace programs and not just drug testing have seen a decrease in workplace accidents, employee mistakes, absenteeism, employee turnover, and in their workers' compensation claims. Other benefits are less tangible, such as improved workplace environment, employee morale and customer satisfaction.    

What are the components of a great drug free workplace policy? 

  1. What is the purpose/goal of your policy?
  2. Who will be covered by your policy?
  3. When will your policy apply?
  4. What behavior will be prohibited?
  5. Will employees be required to notify you of drug-related convictions?
  6. Will your policy include searches?
  7. Will your program include drug testing?
  8. What will the consequences be if your policy is violated?
  9. Will there be Return-to-Work Agreements?
  10. What type of assistance will be available?
  11. How will employee confidentiality be protected?
  12. Who will be responsible for enforcing your policy?
  13. How will your policy be communicated to employees? 

Today, many States have medical and/or recreational marijuana laws and every company should be addressing medical and/or recreational marijuana in their drug free workplace and drug testing policies.  Without addressing this issue your company has exposure to liability.  What happens when your employee goes to Colorado on vacation and comes back to work and now tests positive on a random or post-accident drug test?  Employers must address this now in their drug free workplace and drug testing policies in order to prevent exposure to liability and potentially making the wrong employment decisions.   

Employers do have a right to prohibit the use of marijuana.  You need a comprehensive drug testing policy to do this.  Remember as an employer with 50+ employees, you are subject to a number of Federal laws.  One of those laws is that the use or possession of marijuana is illegal.  The drug testing policy should have a definition of illegal drugs and this definition must include marijuana as an illegal drug.  The federal government regulates drugs through the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811), which does not recognize the difference between medical and recreational use of cannabis.  Under federal law, cannabis is treated like every other controlled substance, such as cocaine and heroin. 

Five Legal Considerations for your Drug Testing Policy 

  1. If you test one, you should probably test all
  2. If you receive federal funds, drug testing is required  
  3. In order to test job applicants, you may be required to first offer employment
  4. Test honestly
  5. Don’t forget state-specific laws 

Employers that are conducting drug testing must consider a drug testing policy or a revision to an older drug testing policy.  It isn’t enough to make sure your drug and alcohol testing policy is consistent with state law. You also need to follow the terms of the policy and apply testing procedures equally to all employees. Making exceptions to a drug and alcohol testing policy or trying to apply it when it isn’t applicable can result in potential liability.  Protect your business with a comprehensive drug free workplace and drug testing policy. 

For expert assistance with drug testing policies call Joe Reilly at 321 622 2020