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Confused about what to do with a “negative dilute” drug test result? Don't be...
Are you an employer that is confused about what to do with a “negative dilute” drug test result? Does a "negative-Dilute" mean your employee tried to cheat the drug test? Should you "free up their future" and fire them? Maybe just ignore it; it does have the word negative in it ... doesn't it?
Well, before you start jumping to conclusions, take a deep breath. All that test result means is that the sample was negative for drugs, but that the composition of the urine was a bit “off”
If it were determined that your employee definitively attempted to cheat the test, the result would have come back from the MRO as “adulterated.” Well, Ok. So what caused the result to be diluted?
Well, there are 3 main things that may be the cause:
• Number one, drinking a lot of fluids before the test … for innocent reasons – like if the employee is working outside on a hot day, or drinking lots of water to lose weight.
• Number two, there is a problem with the employee’s kidneys or liver
• Or, number three, the employee purposefully over-hydrated or added something to the specimen in attempts to beat the test.
So since you don’t know for sure the employee cheated, firing them on the spot may be a bit too extreme. So what should you do? Don’t know? Well, what’s your drug-free workplace policy direct you to do? All you need to do is look it up. Oh wait, it's not in there? Or worse yet, you respond what policy?
If you don't have guidance and are in this situation, then a good model to follow – even if you aren’t mandated to – is the Department of Transportation’s (or DOT’s) guidelines for handling a negative dilute result.
DOT gives employers the option of either treating the result as a negative or asking the employee to go for another test. What you decide can vary by the reason for the initial test, but you must treat all employees the same.
For example, let’s say you got a negative dilute result on a random test, you could have the employee go for another test, but you’d have to do the same thing for the next person who tests negative dilute on a random test but you could handle if differently for pre-employment tests as long as you responded to all pre-employment negative dilutes the same.
It’s also an option to contact the doctor or the medical review officer (MRO) who reviewed the test, to see if he or she has any other directions for you.
Once you have addressed the immediate situation, it is time to make sure you’re DFWP policy addresses it going forward. If you are located in Ohio, give Working Partners a call to help clarify and articulate in writing how you’ll handle a negative dilute result. They also offer a variety of other services for employers.