A guide for employers
Ensuring the safety and health of their employees while they are at work is the responsibility of every employer. Whether the business is an international corporation or a start-up business, having a clear drug testing policy, as well as educational programs and assistance for employees who may have issues with drugs or alcohol, is important.
An employee and job applicant drug testing policy not only discourages employees from abusing substances while at work, but also prevents individuals that abuse drugs or alcohol from being hired in the first place. A drug testing policy is frequently a requirement to take advantage of Workers’ Compensation discount programs and to be in compliance with Federal and State regulations.
In addition to pre-employment and random drug testing, employers may implement a drug policy that requires periodic testing of employees, plus post-accident or return-to-duty testing, as well as testing because of reasonable suspicion.
Types of drug testing
A wide variety of drug tests and testing services are available for employers who are implementing a drug testing policy. Global drug testing services, such as Concateno, as well as state and local laboratories and agencies, can provide testing and screening methods and services to employers and business owners.
All drug tests require a sample from the employee or applicant being tested. Urine or blood is the most common sample taken; hair, breath, oral fluids (saliva) and sweat may also be used for some tests.
On-site drug testing is the most convenient means of testing current and prospective employees without requiring them to make a separate trip to a private lab or testing facility. Several types of drug tests are available in an on-site context. A screening test is the most basic type of drug test used. Many instant tests utilize screening to identify negative results. The so-called “Gold Standard” in drug testing is the confirmation test, which must be processed in a laboratory. Courts and tribunals rely upon the results of the confirmation test. Point of care tests are instant tests commonly used to test oral samples or urine; they are used to screen on-site, with results being ready in minutes.
Most employers and small business owners that implement a drug testing policy will utilize the 5-panel test. This detects the presence of amphetamines and methamphetamine; cocaine; marijuana; opiates, including morphine and codeine; and PCP (“angel dust”). Eight and 10-panel tests include the standard 5-panel drugs, plus a variety of prescription medications that are legal to both use and possess.
Legalities of workplace drug testing
In general, employers may legally require employees and job applicants to submit to drug testing. However, many agencies and organizations have raised questions as to whether or not an employer should be allowed to randomly drug test employees who are not working in positions where safety may be at issue.
Another issue for employers to consider is that someone with a history of drug addiction or alcoholism may qualify as disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other nondiscrimination statutes. This would restrict testing of the individual for any drugs or alcohol for pre-employment or in random circumstances unless there were legitimate suspicions.