Many employers have made it a necessity to perform employee drug tests. An employee drug test involves test performed on job applicants and current employees. However, it is a risky practice. Certain federal and state laws have been evolved for balancing employee privacy against the employer’s right for maintaining a drug-free workplace. Employee drug tests may be of different types including pre-employment drug testing, random drug testing, post-accident drug testing, scheduled testing, and treatment-related testing.
An employer who is willing to perform employee drug tests for job applicants, should do it only after extension of an offer. This is considered as the most important issue for organizations having more than 15 employees. This is in relation with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is to be informed in advance for the applicants that drug screening is a standard part of hiring process.
Care should be taken that the tests are conducted by reputable, state-certified labs. Relevant state and federal laws have to be followed while performing employee drug tests. The drug testing policy must be in such a way that it is clear, written, and communicated to all employees in a company.
Certain drug testing laws are there which give the employers a right for legally firing or denying promotion for employees. If an employee is tested positive, then according to certain state and local drug testing laws, an employer can deny the unemployment, worker’s compensation or disability benefits.
However, the drug testing laws vary by municipality and state. Certain state and municipality policies have zero-tolerance and can terminate or fire an employee if tested positive. Where as certain federal laws help in encouraging treatment and rehabilitation if a person is tested positive. This means instead of firing, an assistance program may be conducted for the employee like a drug treatment program.
Certain government entities modify the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) guidelines for their own specifications. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has its own way for performing drug tests. Either SAMHSA or DOT guidelines are used by many government and private-sector employers.