How To Set Up A Workplace Drug Testing Program
The goal of any company is to be able to provide quality service to its clients. One of the factors that could make this possible is by having a carefully thought out plan to deliver services in a way that the employees would be encouraged and become more productive. Productivity is affected by many factors, one of which is having a safe workplace environment.
Workplace drug testing is not something that can be implemented instantly. A program needs to be carefully thought of to ensure that the workplace will be safe for all concerned. This article should be able to provide information that you need to know about workplace drug testing.
The Written Drug-free Workplace Policy
What are the components of a clearly written drug-free workplace policy? Following is a list of what HR Managers and Directors should incorporate into a comprehensive company policy regarding workplace substance use and abuse.
1. Purpose – what does your policy hope to accomplish? This section should clearly state that:
- Drug and alcohol use and abuse are prohibited in the workplace.
- Employees are encouraged to seek help if they have any substance use problem.
2. Coverage – to whom does the policy apply to? Does it cover all employees or just particular departments, positions or job types? Start your list from the CEO all the way down to rank and file employees, including volunteers, interns, and job applicants.
3.Timing - at which times does the policy apply?
- During working hours
- While on call
- While on official business off company premises
During company-sponsored events outside the office
4. Prohibited Behaviors - What behaviors and activities are prohibited? Clearly state that possessing, using, selling and distributing illicit substances are all considered a violation of your drug-free workplace program.
5. Drug-related Convictions - employees be required to notify you of drug-related convictions as provided for in the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Said employee is required todo so within 5 calendar days of the conviction.
6. Searches – Should you choose to include this provision, be aware that it is not required under the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. Have a legal consultant guide you on this.
7. Drug Testing – will you be doing actual drug testing? It is not required of employers to do this but they may choose to do so for employees holding safety and security-sensitive positions as may be stipulated under other Federal regulations.
8. Policy Violations – state clearly what consequences await policy violators. There will very likely be differences to the consequences facing regular employees and contractual employees for example. These consequences could be a simple warning, suspension without pay or outright termination depending on the situation.
9. Return-to-Work Agreements – if violators are allowed to return to work, they should agree with certain stipulations that the company will put forth, including seeking professional help for their substance abuse problem.
10. Assistance – encourage employees to seek help for their substance abuse problem and provide assistance for them to be able to do this, like help with rehab treatment and reintegration training when they come back to work.
11. Protection of employee privacy – clearly state in the policy that all information will remain confidential.
12. Policy Enforcement – everybody should contribute to the effort of keeping the workplace free and safe from the perils brought about by substance abuse. Employees and supervisors alike have their own responsibilities in this effort.
13. Information Dissemination – Human Resources has this responsibility. All pertinent information should be distributed regularly and in a timely manner to all employees. There are several ways to do this:
- Distribute information packets during all employee meetings
- Send an official letter to employees
- Conducting a series of trainings or seminars
Drug Abuse in the Workplace
Drug abuse in the workplace affects not only its employees but also the company’s productivity and integrity. Using drugs impairs the ability to come up with the right decisions and physically handicaps people. It is definitely inappropriate to be in a place where drug abuse may lead to a large scale of inefficiency, productivity and safety.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), at least 68.9 percent of drug users are employed and active in the workplace. Illegal sale of drugs is not uncommon in the workplace. The Department of Labor and Workplace Development of Tennessee reported that at least a third of all employees are aware of this.
Both the employer and the employee suffer in this kind of environment. Roughly 10-20 percent of American workers who died at work were found to be positive with drugs or alcohol. SAMHSA added that among the industries with high incidents of workplace drug abuse are mining and construction due to the nature of their jobs.
With the incidents of drug abuse in the workplace, employers suffer from hiring these people. It does not only increase the risk of having dangerous accidents occur, but substance abuse cost employers a large amount of money that can hurt them financially.
Substance abuse may lead to the following:
- Arriving late to the workplace
- Having poor work performance
- Not staying in one workplace for too long
- Struggling with productivity
- Filing for worker’s compensation claims and benefits
Drugs Commonly Used In The Workplace
Drug use in the workplace is an expensive problem for businesses and various industries. This causes loss of productivity, injuries, absenteeism, theft, fatalities and low employee morale.
Drug abuse accounts for 50 percent of all on-the-job accidents, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Employees who abuse drugs are absent from work at least 10 times more than non-using co-employers.
The following are the most commonly used drugs in the workplace:
This is said to be the top choice among drug users and has been increasing rapidly. With the legalization of marijuana in various states, this has posed a major concern for employers. When marijuana is used by workers, it does not only affects workplace behavior but overall life in general.
The drug’s status as a medically legal substance is not an excuse to make employees exempted from drug-free workplace rules. Federal law preempts the state medical marijuana laws. Therefore, marijuana users who are authorized under state law can still be subjected to workplace drug testing.
These designer drugs have become common among younger adults. Synthetic substances are sold and used at parties, clubs, raves and music festivals.
Some users who were rushed to the hospital emergency department reported that they are unaware that the drugs they took were not the drug that they thought they were. Most of these drugs were made to mimic prescription drugs but are sold at a much lower cost but may be more potent. There had been many incidents of drug-related deaths due to this.
The use of synthetic drugs may cause the following symptoms:
- Chest pain
- Kidney damage
- Cardiac problems
- Brain damage
Other synthetic drugs were sold online hidden under unconventional names, and are advertised as energy-boosting pills. These substances have since been strictly guarded, as many teens have easy access to them, leading to an increase in the number of teen drug users in the country for a period of time.
Opioids or painkillers are most often abused because of the “feel-good” effect that they can provide to users. It is estimated that about 2.4 million Americans in 2010 were abusing prescription painkillers or narcotics. Opioid medication acts as a pain-masking agent to help patients suffering from chronic pain, and is very commonly used by cancer patients. These drugs have a high potential for abuse. People who abuse opioids usually buy them from the black market or steal them from pain clinics.
Prescription medicines for anxiety, depression or insomnia include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, and tranquilizers. Once a user hits tolerance level, the next step is increasing the dose. This would then have a severe reaction to the user’s system which may increase his risk of more physical and psychological irregularities that can lead to death.
Stimulants are common among college students and are often referred to as “study drugs”. Ritalin and Adderall are prescribed for treating patients with ADHD. Using this drug may have both short-term and long-term effects. Some people refer to the short-term results as the desirable effects needed in treating patients with ADHD, which includes:
- Increasing the production of dopamine or norepinephrine which is responsible for boosting alertness, attention/focus, and energy levels
- Increases heart rate and blood flow to the muscles
With prescription drug abuse, the following undesirable effects can happen:
- Increased irritability
- Decreased ability to concentrate
Alcohol is one substance that has affected so many working days due to alcohol-related illnesses, hangovers, and absenteeism. A study made in 2014 revealed that almost 15 million full-time employees in the U.S. were heavy drinkers. Alcohol abuse in the workplace costs employers so much because of low production, which means less money coming into their businesses.
Ironically, employees abuse methamphetamine to boost their productivity. This drug is more common in the construction and manufacturing industries where workers are required to stay alert for long periods. Unfortunately, the use of meth has also been glamorized in pop culture due to its much more “fashionable” high.
Using meth may initially have some “positive effect” but may wear off after some time and turn users into a violent state, thereby increasing workplace violence (either verbal or physical). This happens when the negative effects such as irritability, anxiety, and paranoia kick in.
Workplace Drug Testing
The only way that employers may be assured that the workplace is safe for all its employees and that the employees can be more efficient and productive is by providing corporate drug testing prior to hiring.
Drug testing works best when the policy is explained properly to all employees. It is a legal requirement to inform employees about your drug testing policy, train the supervisors to easily detect signs and symptoms of addiction among employees, and provide an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for employees who may have an alcohol or drug problem.
Federal agencies conducting drug testing follow a standardized procedure established by SAMHSA. Private employers are not required to follow the guidelines, although, doing so can help them stay on safe legal ground. The Mandatory Guidelines for Federal Workplace Drug Testing include having a Medical Review Officer (MRO) evaluate tests. They are to identify the five substances with the use of certified drug labs by SAMHSA.
The most common method of drug testing is urine drug testing, which may be done at the workplace, at a doctor’s office, or any other site preferred by the employer. An applicant or employee provides a urine sample to be tested. Drug testing areas make use of precautionary measures such as putting instant bluing tablets in the toilet and turning off the water supply. Some drug users will try to tamper their samples to have a false negative result for the presence of drugs. Employers need to be on the lookout for any one of the 114 ways to cheat a drug test.
There should be clear documentation in handling and storage of the sample, from the time it is collected until the time it is discarded.
Most often, a split sample is created when an initial urine sample is split into two. One sample is used for initial screening. If the result turns positive, the second sample is used for the confirmation test. The confirmation test is done using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). This type of test is highly accurate and provides specificity to rule out false negatives from the initial screen.
Benefits of Workplace Drug Testing
The increase in the number of drug-related incidents in the workplace has pushed companies to use workplace drug testing due to the following reasons:
It promotes a safer working environment. This is very important most especially to those who are working with safety-sensitive jobs and handles hazardous chemicals as well as those who operate heavy machinery or drive company vehicles.
It helps reduce potential legal liability to employers. Workplace drug testing ensures that the workplace is healthy and safe for the employees. It helps identify those who may be using drugs or alcohol during work which can pose danger to everyone in the workplace. Any accident that happens in a workplace puts the employer liable, most especially if the employer is unable to detect who are using drugs while working and has not ensured the safety of the employees.
It helps employees with drug problems. Along with the workplace drug testing, employers create an educational program wherein the employees are informed about alcohol and drug abuse and can also extend help to those employees suffering from alcohol and drug problems.
Safety in the workplace ensures productivity. The use of drugs impairs the decision-making capability of an individual which can also affect efficiency and productivity. By keeping a drug-free workplace, it ensures that all employees are able to perform better without fear of meeting accidents related to any substance abuse. This also eliminates frequent absences of employees due to alcohol drug abuse.
Recruitment cost becomes lower. When employers discover drug abuse among its employees, they will need to relieve them from work, which will lead to ending their days of work in the company. Hiring new applicants often may pose additional recruitment costs. With workplace drug testing, it ensures that all employees may be able to continue working efficiently without having to hire new employees too often.
It helps improve employees’ morale. This makes the employees feel that their safety is being valued by their employer.
It assists families to better handle the situation. It can extend help to family members of employees who are found to have substance abuse problems through the EAP. The assistance given could come in the form of counseling
It could be used as a qualification for hiring. Pre-employment drug testing may be regarded as unnecessary because of its cost, but it could definitely filter out applicants with drug abuse problems prior to hiring
It boosts the reputation of the organization. It shows how committed an employer is in providing a healthy and safe environment to his employees, therefore elevating customer trust and the company’s reputation.
Disadvantages of Workplace Drug Testing
While some employers may see workplace drug testing as a great opportunity to increase productivity and safety, some see it otherwise.
Additional Cost. Not all companies can afford such. An employer may spend up to $40 per person on drug testing. Employers could be spending more while waiting for the test results of applicants.
Discomfort. Not all people may welcome the idea of being subjected to drug testing. Invasion of privacy and right to do whatever a person pleases may be a reason why some would not submit themselves to such testing. Legalization of marijuana use may not be welcomed in all states of the U.S. However, those authorized to use medical marijuana are not exempted to undergo drug testing. Those who may be found out to be using such substance may result to resentment among employees, which may lead to loss of interest, decrease in productivity, and lower company revenue
Unfair dismissal suits may be filed by former employees against the company due to illegal termination. Employees released from their jobs may feel being discriminated and may lead to loss of self-esteem and loss of job opportunities as some people may brand them in a way that can destroy the user’s reputation.
Reasons for Workplace Drug Testing
Workplace drug testing is being implemented by companies for the following reasons:
To protect the employees and its customers
Employees who may be working under the influence of drugs or alcohol may pose danger upon themselves, fellow employees and the general public. Aside from the possible accidents that can happen, most especially those employees who are working on heavy machinery, any wrong decision could bring huge problems for the company.
To maintain productivity
Employees who are into alcohol or drug use have a higher possibility of frequently being unable to report to work. If they ever find the opportunity to push themselves to report for work, they may not be as productive as usual due to drowsiness or lack of coordination.
To decrease health care costs
Companies suffer from having to pay worker’s compensation when an employee meets an accident at work. This is why some companies would deny coverage of any injury when the use illicit drugs or alcohol comes into play.
To help the community
Companies are able to do their part in addressing drug problems in their community by way of implementing workplace drug testing. The fight against drug abuse and addiction is not something that only the government can solve; everyone in the community has a role to play.
To hopefully prevent drug use
When applicants or employees are aware that the company supports a drug-free workplace, they are more likely to stop using illegal drugs. Otherwise, they may find themselves applying for employment elsewhere.
To help rehabilitate employees
Workplace drug testing is part of a comprehensive drug program that companies implement to provide assistance to employees who are found to be positive with drugs or alcohol. By conducting workplace drug testing within the bounds of a company drug policy, employees who are found using drugs may be referred to specialists who will help them in the treatment and recovery process.
In compliance with state laws or federal regulations
Some jobs require the clearance of workplace drug testing, especially those who are working in critical and safety-sensitive industries such as aviation, transportation, and mining.
Drug-Free Workplace Policy
Some employers may be in denial that any of their employees are using illicit drugs. However, careful scrutiny and the conduct of drug testing can change all that. In contrast, the absence of workplace drug testing may allow employees to work without the employer knowing that some of them are reporting to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The best way for any company to be spared from accidents waiting to happen is by implementing a workplace drug testing program. The employer needs to come up with a policy that will hopefully address the company’s thrust in maintaining a drug-free workplace. A drug-free workplace advisor from the U.S. Department of Labor can help guide employers in formulating such policy.
A standard drug-free workplace policy should contain the following information:
- The purpose or goal of the program
- The individuals covered by the policy
- The time and date when the policy will take effect
- The type of behavior that will be prohibited
- Employees informing the company about past drug-related convictions
- Implementation of drug testing
- The consequences if the policy has been violated
- Return-to-work agreement
- The type of assistance available for those who were found to be positive
It should be made clear in the policy that all current employees and new hires should be informed that any use of drugs or alcohol in the workplace – no matter how small or rare – will not be tolerated.
The policy should be cascaded to all employees, who should affix their signatures as proof that they understand. The same policy and other information pertaining to the dangers of drug use and its consequences should be handed out in the form of flyers or pamphlets. In addition, opportunities for education on workplace safety and substance abuse should also be available.
What Employees Should Expect in Workplace Drug Testing
Some employees may deem workplace drug testing unnecessary and an invasion of privacy. However, when visualized in a different perspective, employees should realize that workplace drug testing is not done for the sake of the company alone but rather for the safety of all employees.
The Drug Testing Index determines the status of drug users among employees. Despite the steady decline on rates of drug use in past years, employee drug use is starting to pick up again, particularly marijuana use. This should cause alarm to both employers and employees, as a rising trend in drug use increases the likelihood of accidents and injuries in the workplace.
A drug-free workplace policy should clearly indicate that workplace drug testing may be conducted in different situations, which include the following:
1. Pre-employment drug testing
Companies are now keener in ensuring that all prospective employees are free from any alcohol or drug problems that may interfere with the quality of work. Apart from the job interview and background check, pre-employment drug testing is now included in the hiring process.
2. Random drug testing
Upon the discretion of employers, random drug screening may be conducted on workers who have been under strict performance evaluation. Results of the drug test may be used by the employer as basis for referring employees to drug treatment specialists.
Employers are allowed to carry out random testing on employees. However, singling out a particular employee may be discriminatory unless it is justified by the nature of the job.
Searches may also be done, but this should be stated in the policy signed by the employee. Searches should be carried out by the same sex only, and should take place in the presence of a witness.
3. Return-to-work drug testing
All employees found to be positive for drugs should undergo therapy and treatment. The employer may only allow the employee to go back to the job when a return-to-work drug test produces a negative result. Otherwise, the employee will be denied to report to work or may be terminated.
TestCountry’s White Papers will help you design a workplace drug testing policy to keep your employees safe, sound and sober.
How to Come Up with an Effective Drug-Free Workplace Policy
One way to address drug abuse in the workplace is to create a drug-free workplace policy. Every establishment has a different policy. A drug-free workplace policy should always comply with the existing laws and regulations of the state. When creating a drug-free workplace policy, organizations should take into consideration factors like the nature of their business and job vacancies, values, and priorities.
An ineffective drug-free workplace policy can cause waste of money, lives, and opportunities. Hence, this article will walk you through the several steps on how to come up with an effective drug-free workplace program as suggested by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association (SAMSHA).
- Determine the purpose of a drug testing policy
An effective drug-free workplace policy can serve a lot of purpose. Determine the reason why your organization needs to put up a drug-free workplace program. Is it because a certain law requires your organization to create a drug-free workplace policy? Or is it because your organization’s insurance carrier requires you to abide with their rules as an insurance grantee? You must have a purpose why your organization needs a drug testing policy. Once you are able to determine the purpose of your program, you will be able to clearly define your objectives – the most important part of the drug-free workplace program that will lead you on creating a successful implementation strategy for your drug testing policy.
- Know the basic elements of a drug testing policy
An effective drug-free workplace policy should outline the state’s requirements on workplace drug policies, background or history of the organization, goals of the policy, expected outcomes and specific prohibitions, techniques of effective implementation, and consequences and appeals. It should also define the drug testing policy as means of ensuring safety and an assurance of a drug-free workplace for employees.
- Be resourceful
Every organization that aims to create a drug testing policy to achieve a drug-free workplace should always make sure that the policy meets the needs of the employees and the organization. Evaluate the nature of your business to determine the extent of drug test you can perform to tackle your company’s goals and address specific concerns. For instance, you may consider drug testing that addresses the use of alcohol, tobacco or illegal substances to prevent the negative outcomes of drug use, such as habitual absence and poor work performance.
Look for existing models of a drug-free workplace program from the national, regional, or local level to help you create an effective drug testing program. Familiarize yourself with your city and state’s labor practices and federal laws on drug testing, so that you will be able to cover your employees’ legal rights while protecting your business’ interest.
- Ask a lawyer to review the drug testing policy
To keep you on the safe side it is important to have your drug testing policy checked by a lawyer. Ask for a legal expert to assess the drafted policy. Evaluate the effectiveness of the policy, correct its flaws, and suggest better ideas in accordance with the federal and state laws. An experienced corporate lawyer will be able to help in making the drug testing policy remain fair to both employers and employees by evaluating its legal, health, safety, and productivity aspects.
- Prepare the workplace
After the finalization and approval of the policy, part of an effective implementation of a drug-free workplace policy is to educate employees on the new rules. An employer should ensure that new employees are oriented with the company’s existing drug testing policy before their official first day at work. The purpose of this is to avoid possible negative behaviors that may threaten the safety of all employees in the workplace. An organization may also conduct forums, workshops, and training to inform employees of the new drug testing policy and make them adhere to it. As part of the training, the organization should ensure that supervisors will be well-informed on how to effectively communicate and fairly enforce the policy to their subordinates.
- Determine the issues and provide assistance
In order to be effective, a drug-free workplace policy should not only state the dos and don’ts in employee drug testing, but also state that the supervisors will remain vigilant to any health and safety issues in the workplace. The policy may also assert that there will be an annual review of the work performed as part of the organization’s data gathering and policy effectiveness evaluation. Additionally, it may discuss specific types of assistance programs that can be extended to employees who are found to be affected by drug abuse and workplace related hazards.
Characteristics of an Effective, Comprehensive Drug-Free Workplace Program
An effective drug-free workplace program strikes the balance between two philosophies. The first is sending a clear message and the second is encouraging employees to seek help in case of a drug problem. It helps provide a safe place to work, discourages alcohol and drug use, and encourages treatment and recovery for employees with a drug problem.
Designing and implementing a drug-free workplace program can be time-consuming. Therefore, we are enumerating 9 important characteristics that your organization should consider to make a comprehensive and effective drug-free workplace program.
Must be clear and complete – Before starting a drug-free workplace program, your organization must learn about the existing labor, federal, and state laws that deal with workplace drug abuse. The drug-free program must be planned carefully and must be referred to legal experts for advice and corrections. It must also state goals and expected outcomes, such as maintaining violence-free workplace, boosting employee morale, improving employee productivity, and so forth.
Must be fair to employees – The drug-free workplace program must state the employees’ rights to access drug test results, make an appeal for any positive drug test result, and seek recovery treatment when necessary – among others. It should also be open to employee suggestions and complaints. After all, a drug-free workplace program should be seen as a strategy to improve employees’ workplace safety and quality of life.
Must contain a written policy – A drug-free workplace program should have clear written policies and procedures that will be distributed in visible worksites. The policy must include provisions of appeal and must be consistently applied.
Must consider the collective bargaining process – If applicable, your drug-free workplace program must also be properly discussed with a union of representatives.
Must protect confidentiality – The drug-free workplace policy must ensure that the right of employees to privacy is protected. It must spell the process of drug testing and state the consequences for those who violate the process. Your organization must also know the proper ways to keep and dispose of drug test results.
Must ensure accurate testing and objective review – Since drug testing is an important component of a drug-free workplace program, an organization must ascertain the following:
- Samples are correctly collected
- The chain of custody is properly imposed
- The tests are properly conducted by well trained and supervised lab technicians
- The results are communicated to a Medical Review Officer when needed
Must undergo expert’s review – The first and final draft of the drug-free workplace policy must be reviewed by a lawyer. Lawyers have the widest knowledge about labor and employment, making them the most reliable people to advise you on relevant state laws governing workplace drug use. They can also alert you to the changes on existing rules and regulations that you might not be fully aware of.
Must address workplace drug abuse in the context of health, safety, and productivity –Your drug-free workplace policy must not aim to intimidate employees; instead, it should discourage your staff to stay away from drug use. It must be imposed to promote good health, safety, and productivity among employees. A drug-free workplace program that thinks about the welfare of the organization’s employees eliminates social stigma and is proven to be more effective and successful.
Must ensure good communication and ongoing review – An effective drug-free workplace program must ensure that both employers and employees are knowledgeable about their roles, rights, and responsibilities under the program. The program must also be communicated effectively (i.e. the organization may facilitate a drug education program or hold meetings, a question-and-answer session, and seminars, as well as distribute suggestion box for employees). Employers should also keep track on how the program works on a daily basis, invite feedback, and revise program in case of changes on existing rules and regulations.
Standard Process of Taking Samples for Drug Testing
In most cases, a urine drug test is performed to determine if an individual is using any illicit substances that may interfere with job performance. It is a quick, non-invasive type of drug testing that can help detect potential substance abuse.
Drug testing should be done in the presence of a Medical Review Officer (MRO), a licensed physician who is qualified to interpret and evaluate test results as well as provide medical information.
A basic urine drug test can detect 5 types of drugs, namely:
Specimen collection procedure for a urine drug test is as follows:
- The area should be secure.
- A specimen cup is given to the individual. It is important that the genital area should be cleaned with a moist cloth.
- Collect the midstream urine.
The collection of the specimen must allow the individual to have privacy unless the particular person is believed to have the intention of cheating the drug test.
- At least 45 milliliters of urine should be collected. If the employee fails to collect as much urine sample, he is advised to drink up to 24 ounces of fluid before sample extraction.
- If the toilet is to be used as the place of collection, water supply should be temporarily cut-off to avoid tampering of the specimen.
- A split sample of urine is collected. In the event that the result is positive, a confirmatory testing may be performed by the testing laboratory.
- The chain of custody form must be completed and shipped with the specimen.
Processing the Urine Sample
The first test is performed by an immunoassay test. This test should be able to determine and quantify the amount of drug present in the sample provided. There are cut-off levels from which the results are based, such as:
- Amphetamines – 1000 ng/ml
- Cannabis – 50 ng/ml
- Cocaine – 300 ng/ml
- Opiate metabolites – 300 ng/ml
- Phencyclidine – 25 ng/ml
Drug testing administrators usually give the results in terms of positive or negative and not the numeric values. A confirmatory test is performed on all initial positive tests. Should the second test remain positive, the sample may be tested in a different certified laboratory to be sent within 72 hours.
Reporting and Review of Positive Results
The MRO carefully examines each confirmed positive result to determine if there are any medical reasons for the positive result. Some medications that an individual is taking may produce a positive result, and this information should be relayed to the MRO.
The MRO will discuss the findings with the employee and will ask if the employee is taking any prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs or herbal medicine that could have affected the result. If it has been found out that some medications are taken by the employee, the MRO may report to the employer that the test is negative.
On the other hand, any positive result that confirms the use of illicit substances may be used by the employer as the basis for refusal to hire.
Challenges with Drug-Free Workplace Programs
Putting up a drug-free workplace program will not make HR Managers very popular among employees, as some of them will out-rightly object to drug testing. They feel that drug testing is intrusive and that it invades their privacy. HR has to make employees understand the rationale behind the policy, hence the recommended employee training. They should also make sure that all employees are treated with fairness, dignity, and respect.
As HR establishes the drug-free workplace program, they should also train their supervisors on how to deal with employees who may be having drug or alcohol-related performance issues - from observing signs of substance abuse through behavioral changes to spotting intoxication or impairment while on the job, all the while properly documenting everything. In short, if a supervisor is responsible for referring an employee for drug testing based on reasonable suspicion, that supervisor should be given the proper training in order to make that determination.
HR practitioners, hiring managers and supervisors should try to learn every trick in the book. Drug use is so prevalent that the chances of having users and abusers in your organization (many of whom will likely try to cheat on their drug test) is practically guaranteed. The only times however that you or other safety officers in your organization will be in attendance for a drug test on an employee is when you are doing it on-site or post-accident and in some cases when there’s reasonable suspicion. Still, it couldn’t hurt to have some knowledge of how cheating on a drug test is done.
What Happens at the Sample Collection Site?
This training video demonstrates what happens when one reports for a federal drug test. The procedure varies very little between collection and testing facilities. More differences will be noted when collecting different samples, like saliva, blood or hair. Urine testing is the most widely used method for employee testing, but saliva testing has gained in popularity in recent years owing to the improvements in saliva testing technologies. This video does a good job of showing the step-by-step procedure from asking the subject’s identification upon arrival at the collection site up to the point when the sample is sealed for sending to the lab.
The Employee Assistance Program
The EAP is another major consideration when instituting a Drug-Free Workplace Policy. It is an employee benefit where employees and their families can receive assistance if the employee’s performance is adversely affected by stressors on the job, personal problems or substance abuse. EAPs vary from company to company but they do share common components like education, healthcare management and training and referrals to service providers like substance abuse clinics.
Building your own Drug Testing Policy is a daunting task but it should not feel like rocket science either. It does need an inexhaustible amount of patience when sifting thru the tons of information already floating around on the internet. But that’s just it, all the information you will need are already out there. Just remember to run everything through your legal counsel to make sure you have covered all the
Fair Reasons for Dismissal
Workplace drug testing is very significant in any setting as it maintains a healthy and safe environment for employees while generating quality products and services to customers. However, not all employees may be complying with the company policy for a drug-free workplace.
Based on the provisions of a workplace drug testing policy, the employer has every right to dismiss any employee who is found to be:
How to Inform Employees about the Company Drug-Free Workplace Policy
Informing employees about your drug-free workplace policy is the main key to make your policy work. However, helping your employees adjust to the policy can be a challenge.
The following are some tips on how to effectively communicate the drug-free workplace policy to your employees:
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of your organization must write a letter informing all employees about the implementation of a drug-free workplace policy.
Listed below are the things that the CEO letter should contain:
- A brief discussion on the risks of drug abuse to the organization (i. e. increased absenteeism, higher insurance cost, more injuries and fatalities, lower productivity, and reduced employee morale.)
The organization’s role in helping employees achieve good health, avoid problems with drug abuse and increase safety.
- Explanation of how the program can benefit the employees and their family, and a summary of the major benefits that the employee will get upon the implementation of the policy
- Introduction to the activities, meetings, and training related to the policy
- Methods about how employees can access the written policy and any accompanying materials
- Reinforce the message from the CEO through a specially tailored communication with supervisors and managers in order to establish consistency and understanding of the policy.
If applicable, arrange a meeting with the union of representatives.
- Make sure that all employees get a copy of the written policy.
If your organization has a website, upload a copy of the policy. Additionally, provide a hard copy in case your employees are not able to download them from the Internet.
- Create a policy fact sheet that will highlight the major points and implications of the drug-free workplace policy.
The following are things that your fact sheet may contain:
- Rationale – State the reason why there is the need to implement the policy, how the policy was developed, and what is expected to do under the policy.
- Rules and regulations – State the dos and don’ts of the policy and specify the substance that employees should not take.
- Consequence and appeal – State the procedures on how to determine if the employee has violated the policy, specify the penalties, and explain the process of filing an appeal.
- Benefits and assurance – Explain how the company will help the employees, state how the company will protect the rights of an employee to privacy, and guarantee fairness and consistency of the policy.
- Hold regular activities to keep your employees reminded of the policy, such as safety meetings, staff meetings, and supervisor training.
Inform job applicants and new-hires of the drug-free workplace policy during the job orientation.
If applicable, provide them an updated employee handbook.
Call for an emergency meeting with supervisors and managers whenever there are changes and updates to the drug workplace policy.
The supervisors and managers should make it a point to inform their subordinates of any changes.
How to Convince Management to Start a Drug Testing Program in Your Company
Having a drug-free company will not only be beneficial to the owners but to other employees as well. That’s why it’s very important that you can adopt a drug testing program right at your own organization. However, it’s never going to be that easy, especially when the management itself is totally apprehensive about it.
Here are some tips on how to convince the management to begin a drug testing program in your company:
- Inform them of the benefits of developing one.
One of the best ways to get their nods is to let them know what the rewards are when you have a drug-free company. These may include lesser conflicts in the organization, more productive employees, lesser turnover, and a healthier working environment for everyone.
To help you out during the persuasion process, you can cite a drug-free company and how the program helps them to become a more successful one and achieve their goals.
- Create drug-related policies.
Sometimes the management would just like to see if you mean what you want to happen. What you can do is to create drug-related policies in the workplace. Make sure that they are very easy to understand and will not be misinterpreted by anyone.
It’s also essential that you can identify the possible sanctions a drug user may face if found violating the drug-related policies. When they see that you’re willing to take on the challenge of leading the drug testing program with your policies, it will be easier for them to give you the blessing you want.
- Stress the laws that govern the development of a drug-free company.
Workplace drug testing is not only compliant with work or contract requirements, but it’s also mandated by law and supervised by various federal agencies. When your arguments will be backed up by proper regulations and provisions of the law against substance abuse, there’s a huge possibility that the management would not mind having one in your company.
- Focus on the long-term cost than the initial investment needed for a drug testing program.
One of the reasons why the management may be lukewarm to the idea of a drug testing program in a company is because of the cost. After all, you can’t start it unless it has its own budget, which will have to come from the coffers of the company. Nevertheless, you can inform the leaders that it’s better to invest now than continuously develop liabilities in the company along the way.
Having a drug user is no joke, and when they are too many, they can already be too costly. They will be unproductive, basically, need more money than the others, and will push those who are not into substance abuse to eventually leave the company for their own safety. With the drug testing program, you can already correct the problems of a drug user, give him/her the necessary treatment so he/she can be more fit to work, and, if it still fails, remove him/her from the organization before he/she does more harm than good.
Drug testing at work is a necessity. It is very important that we all live in a safe environment. The workplace should be as safe as possible to all employees to be able to provide good performance in their job that can help businesses meet the demands of their customers.
Drug testing may not be seen as something significant to some, but the drawbacks cannot outweigh the benefits. In fact, both the employers and his employees are in a win-win situation with a good workplace drug testing policy.
Any person who notices that a fellow employee may be involved in drug use should immediately give feedback to the employer so that accidents may be prevented. Drug testing applicants prior to hiring them is not meant to discriminate or shame them but rather designed welcome them in a safe environment. After all, they seek employment in order to sustain their daily needs.
Not keeping the workplace safe endangers not only the user’s health but also the safety of other employees working in the company. There should be no room for the unsafe use of substances that may affect so many lives.
Our Library of Whitepapers: