HR and Your Business: Top 5 Things to Know About Drug Testing

Chalkboard with the words, Human Resource

The human resource (HR) department in your business is responsible for policy administration.  As you’re already aware, drug testing is a touchy subject in any workplace. We can’t ignore it though. So, when it comes to HR and your business there are some important things to know about drug testing. This post focuses on the top five things that you can see below.

1. Know why you’re implementing drug testing

To make a drug test as smooth an experience as possible, you need to know why you’re implementing drug testing. In other words, you need to define specific reasons you’re doing so. At the same time, you should also be prepared to explain these reasons to employees. Clear and specific reasons take away the confusion and prevent a negative response. 

It’s useful to bear in mind that businesses regulated by federal or state governments must implement drug testing. In these environments, drug testing isn’t optional, but mandatory. But even if your business isn’t regulated by the state/federal government you can still employ drug policy. 

This particular policy usually involves pre-employment drug tests, random drug testing, post-accident drug test, and reasonable suspicion drug test. 

pre employment drug screen is a standard procedure for many companies. They ask applicants to take a drug test but only do so when they offer a job as well. An applicant’s employment often depends on the results of the drug test. But, many HR departments make a mistake where they don’t inform applicants about the drug test policy and pre-employment testing. To make the process as smooth as possible, you should notify applicants ahead of time if this policy is a part of the hiring process in your business. This will prevent negative feedback and save time you’d spend on applicants that don’t find this policy suitable for them. That way you can focus on other applicants.

Random drug testing is a policy where all employees have the same chance of being chosen for a drug test. Not all employees have to undergo a drug test, there’s software that selects their names randomly. It’s similar to other types of HR management software. The same thing as to pre-employment drug testing, you should notify applicants and employees about this policy beforehand. 

A post-accident drug test is intended for employees involved in a work accident. But HR managers need to be careful here because the goal isn’t to accuse a person of drug use. This test rules out drug/alcohol use so the worker can receive compensation.

And lastly, the reasonable suspicion drug test is utilized in situations when you suspect drug or alcohol impairment. Keep in mind you shouldn’t allow the employee to drive to the testing site on their own. You should arrange transportation or drive them yourself. If the employee tests positive, you are allowed to terminate the employment contract. Or you can demand the employee seeks treatment for their problem.

2. Learn the lingo 

A knowledgeable HR department is a crucial component of the successful implementation of a drug testing policy. For that reason, you need to learn the terms that are associated with the whole process. These terms may include:

  • Donor – an employee that takes the drug test
  • Collection container – a container wherein a person urinates or some other form of bodily fluid is collected to provide a specimen for a drug test
  • Sample – urine, hair, or blood provided by the donor for the purpose of the drug test
  • Collector – the person who carries out the drug test 
  • Medical review officer – a licensed physician who reviews laboratory results 
  • Diluted specimen – a specimen that has been diluted to the point the drug traces or metabolites appear less concentrated. This usually happens when a donor drinks large quantities of liquid, mostly water

The more you know about the terms involved in drug testing, the easier it is to take stress and anxiety out of the situation. 

3. Familiarize yourself with drugs included in the drug test

When your HR manager informs employees and applicants about the drug test, they need to know all the facts. That also includes being familiar with drugs that are included in testing. In most cases, companies and businesses implement a test that detects marijuana, amphetamines including methamphetamine, cocaine, steroids, PCP (phencyclidine), barbiturates, and opioids such as heroin.

Test tubes

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4. You can’t ask about prescription drugs

Many people use prescription drugs today. Some even abuse them. But, the HR department of a business or company, regardless of its size, should keep in mind drug tests don’t involve prescription drugs. You can’t ask an employer to take a drug test for medications they use. Even the collector won’t ask employees about prescription drugs they’re taking. That said, if the medical review officer detects the presence of prescription drugs in the sample, they may contact the employee to confirm the exact medical reason for the use of these medications.

5. Things go wrong frequently

As much as you try to ensure the drug testing process goes smoothly, something can always go wrong. Some employees may have a shy bladder, for instance. Others may refuse to get tested while some employees may provide a sample with questionable temperature or other irregularities. Many people look to read the information regarding shampoo for a hair drug test and other similar methods, so you need to keep that in mind.

The HR department needs to be prepared for these events. The way you handle the obstacles sets the tone for everyone else involved in drug testing. Panicking, yelling, and other negative behaviors aren’t the solution.

Persons with a shy bladder should remain in the clinic within view of the collector in order to produce the sample. When it comes to other potential obstacles, you handle them according to the drug policy administered by the HR department. All you need is to stick to that policy and determine what actions you’re going to take to address them. For example, refusal to take the test may be a legitimate reason to terminate the contract in some companies. But not all obstacles require terminating a contract. Your goal can and should be to create a friendly environment where people can discuss their problems and even get help when necessary.

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