Drug Testing FAQs
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions for Employers
- Why do employers drug test?
- When do employers drug test?
- How is drug testing conducted and how accurate is it?
- What do I need to consider before implementing drug testing?
- Is drug testing legal?
- How do I start a drug testing program?
- What type of drug testing is approved for mandated testing?
Why do employers drug test?
- Deter employees from abusing alcohol and drugs
- Prevent hiring individuals who use illegal drugs
- Be able to identify early and appropriately refer employees who have drug and/or alcohol problems
- Provide a safe workplace for employees
- Protect the general public and instill consumer confidence that employees are working safely
- Comply with state laws or federal regulations
- Benefit from Workers’ Compensation premium discount programs
When do employers drug test?
There are a variety of circumstances under which an organization may require a drug test. Following are the most common:
- Reasonable Suspicion
How is drug testing conducted and how accurate is it?
Generally, most private employers have a fair amount of latitude in implementing drug testing as they see fit for their organization, unless they are subject to certain Federal regulations, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) drug-testing rules for employees in safety-sensitive positions. However, Federal agencies conducting drug testing must follow standardized procedures established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
While private employers are not required to follow these guidelines, doing so can help them stay on safe legal ground. Court decisions have supported following these guidelines, and as a result, many employers choose to follow them. These Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing (also called SAMHSA’s guidelines) include having a Medical Review Officer (MRO) evaluate tests. They also identify the five substances tested for in Federal drug-testing programs and require the use of drug labs certified by SAMHSA.
The most common method of drug testing, urinalysis, can be done at the workplace (at a health unit, for example), a doctor’s office or any other site selected by the employer. An employee or applicant provides a sample to be tested. Usually precautions are taken, such as putting blue dye in the toilet and turning off the water supply, to prevent adulteration or substitution of specimens so that collection can be completed in privacy without any direct visual observation by another person. Under SAMHSA’s guidelines, once a sample is provided, it is sent to a certified laboratory. The accuracy of drug tests done by certified laboratories is very high, but this certification applies only to the five substances tested for in Federal drug-testing programs and alcohol.
What do I need to consider before implementing drug testing?
Who pays for a drug test? Does an employee have to be paid for time spent having a drug test?
According to SAMHSA, an employer normally pays for a drug test. Also, time spent having a required drug test is generally considered hours worked (and thus compensable time) under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulation, for employees who are covered by the Act. These types of issues are overseen by DOL’s Wage and Hour Division. For further guidance, please contact the closest DOL Wage and Hour District Office.
Is drug testing legal?
In most cases it is legal for employers to test employees for drugs. No Federal laws prohibit the practice. However, there are several states that restrict or question an employer’s ability to randomly drug test employees who are not in safety-sensitive positions. Thus, it is very important that employers familiarize themselves with the various state laws that may apply to their organization before implementing a drug-testing program. Furthermore, under certain circumstances, someone with a history of alcoholism or drug addiction may be considered a qualified individual with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other Federal non-discrimination statues. As a result, testing for alcohol without individualized suspicions (e.g. pre-employment or random) is not allowable.
How do I start a drug testing program?
Drug testing is only one component of a comprehensive drug-free workplace program, which also includes a written policy that clearly outlines employer expectations regarding drug use; training for supervisors on the signs and symptoms of drug use and their role in enforcing the policy; education for employees about the dangers of drug use; and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to provide counseling and referral to employees struggling with drug problems.
A comprehensive drug-free workplace program contributes to a workplace free of the health, safety and productivity hazards caused by employees’ abuse of alcohol or drugs. By educating employees about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse and encouraging individuals with related problems to seek help, employers can protect their businesses from such dangers, retain valuable employees and help play a part in making communities safer and healthier.
What type of drug testing is approved for mandated testing?
Urine testing is the only drug test type approved for federally mandated testing.
By following standardized procedures by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), we are able to provide Department of Transportation (DOT) approved testing in accordance with rule 49 CFR Part 40.
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FAQ for Individuals
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals. Learn about Drug Testing for individuals.
About Drug Testing
There are a number of different bodily specimens that can be chemically tested to detect evidence of recent drug use.