The Biggest Mistakes Employers Make in Drug Testing Programs

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While the majority of employers across the U.S. are not required to drug test their employees, many private companies have the right to conduct drug testing as part of their hiring process.

Having an effective drug testing program in place can help create a safer and more productive workplace for everyone. Unfortunately, there are some common mistakes employers make when implementing an employee drug testing program that can lead to legal trouble.

Here are a few of the most frequent mistakes employers make:

1. No clearly defined rules

In order to create an effective employee drug testing program, rules must be clearly defined and communicated to employees. A lack of clearly defined rules can lead to inconsistent administration of drug testing.

Without consistency, drug testing programs lose their effectiveness – and thus open the door to employee drug use that can have detrimental effects on the workplace.

2. Lack of legal compliance

Managing a drug testing program is a complex task. Most companies don’t intentionally evade laws, but noncompliance often happens by mistake.

This is because drug testing laws and regulations vary by state and industry, making compliance a complicated matter. In order to have an effective – and legal – drug testing program in place, employers must be aware of and stay updated on all relevant laws and regulations.

The U.S. Department of Labor recommends employers consult with legal advisors to ensure that they comply with any applicable state or local laws and design their testing programs to withstand legal challenges. More detailed information about drug testing is available from the Drug and Alcohol Testing Industry Association and the Substance Abuse Program Administrators Association.

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3. Drug screening is not comprehensive

While many employers conduct pre-employment drug screening, significantly fewer conduct random drug tests of employees once hired.

Lack of comprehensive drug screening opens the door for employee drug use after completion of the hiring process, thereby exposing the company to significant risk.

4. Poor test choice

Drug screening programs are only as effective as the drug tests used in the process. There are many types of drug tests available, and employers must carefully consider which test is the best fit for their program.

Factors employers should consider when selecting a test include: cost, time it takes to administer the test, length of time before results are available and specific drugs the test detects.

This was originally published on the Genesis HR Solutions blog.

Hilliary Comeau is a Marketing Associate and Social Media Manager at Genesis HR Solutions, a leading provider of PEO and full life-cycle HR services, comprehensive employee benefits and integrated payroll administration. Hilliary manages and contributes to the Genesis Blog, which provides valuable HR content.


18 Comments on “The Biggest Mistakes Employers Make in Drug Testing Programs

  1. Bull shit company don’t have any fucking right to drug test me for shit that I do on MY TIME now if I was on THE COMPANY’S TIME then i understand but most drug test lets just throw out the example of weed which tests up to 2 to 3 weeks after you smoke even if its not on the company time. Are we or are we not in the land of the free.

  2. This article is terrible. Not research based and makes assumptions about drugs at work without valid sources or credibility. Drug-testing employees is not worth your time and depends on various contexts. No one condones intoxication at work, but we should look for behavioral signs or performance patterns that would indicate an issue or problem. People get high off caffeine, nicotine, ADHD meds, and other, at their nature, legal substances. So given this article’s logic, you would expect recommendations to test for all, legal and illicit, substances to ensure the workplace is “drug” free. Problem is that this country has a horribly inconsistent view on what drugs are and how they impact society.

    1. The least harmfull of drugs is the one that can be detected for the longest period of time. Marijuana.

      1. You are right Fugg. I managed a large call center and we lost so many good employees because of a harmless drug, while all the meth heads and cocaine users could keep their jobs because their drug didn’t stay in the system very long. I finally lost my job because I took a two week long vacation to Jamaica and was drug tested the day I came back…supposedly it was ‘random’. I could have smoked three months earlier and it would have still come up positive and in no way affected my work.

  3. May the Owners, CEO and those that make this policy have very young children in their families Succumb to a long battle with Cancer diagnosed by this years end.

  4. Given that many companies are getting rich from selling “synthetic urine”, unless someone observes the test subject urinating in the bottle, all tests are useless.

  5. The only issue should be are you doing your job, and are safe at doing your job. Drugs should not be a factor if you are doing what is expected of you. If you don’t show up for work or do a bad job you should be fired whether drugs are involved or not. I know people who are straight and narrow and pious as well, and were the laziest people I have ever known. Hire by work ethic, not by life style.

  6. Or how about they mis out on people are hard workers, but happen to enjoy a substance in their off time. A person can be a raging drunk because it’s out of their system in the morning…but god forbid someone smoke pot

  7. The biggest mistake is drug testing in the first place. Unfortunately some are required by law. Drug testing is very beneficial to the companies making money off of the services. This is also why these same companies lobby to keep the war on drugs going.

  8. I told a prospective employer once, “I’ll pee in a cup for you if I get to watch you drink it.” Drug testing is a disgusting and reprehensible practice on so many levels. I’ll never be a part of that. Ever. But guess what. Today, I’m my own boss. I win.

  9. It is not the companies that set the Drug testing criteria, It is the companies Liability Insurance and their statistics that dictates the criteria. Most companies have a zero tolerance policies for all drugs because of the past payouts in lawsuits in accidents that cost insurance millions…. The problem is most people choose to ignore their companies zero tolerance policies.

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