Small Business Brief

Employees, Safety & Loss Prevention

9 Drug Test Facts Every Employer Must Know Before Testing Employees


If you run a business with employees, you know that drug testing is an important part of the screening process, but there’s also a lot you probably don’t know.

Of course, you want your employees to be productive and trustworthy, and drug testing is part of that essential process.

But before you start administering tests, read these nine essential drug test facts that will ensure you’re doing everything the right way.

1. Decide What Types of Drugs to Test For

Whether it’s cocaine and amphetamines or marijuana, not all drug tests are the same. Be aware of what types of drugs you’re testing for before you start administering them.

If you use a third party clinic, ask them what kind of “panels” they have available. Many modern tests can screen for everything from common street drugs to the more trendy drugs like spice and ecstasy.

If you’re only looking to test for marijuana, be sure your kit is specific to that one drug, otherwise, you could be spending a lot more money for something you might not need.

2. Disclose Everything

Today, most potential employees know that they will probably need to take a drug test of some kind. Regardless, you should always disclose this information ahead of time.

While you don’t necessarily have to tell people what kinds of drugs you’re testing for, they still need to be aware that they will be tested. You can fix this issue by having interviewees sign a form consenting to the test.

Offering a consent form not only makes people aware, but it also helps to protect you from potential liability issues later down the line.

3. Choose Your Test Type

From urine to hair, there are multiple ways you can perform a drug test. There are plenty of new modern alternatives that companies use today in order to get the most accurate results possible.

It may just come down to cost, but here are a few examples of drug tests you can use:

  • Saliva swabs
  • Hair follicle samples
  • Urine testing
  • Dip cards (mostly designed to test for spice)

Consider all of your options and find out which method will work best for you. Urine tests are still the most common, mainly because they are affordable, easy, and give good results. These reliable kits are exceptionally fast and accurate.

4. Determine the Testing Location

For many employers, they contract a local clinic to perform drug testing, and the clinic then relays the results back. This is recommended if you don’t have the time, resources, or space to perform a drug test in-house.

Other employers opt to give people drug tests right there on the spot. This is viable if you have test kits in your office, and you know how to read them correctly. If you choose to go this route, make sure that you’re properly trained on how to administer the test and how to ensure you’re getting a true, accurate reading.

Many people prefer the clinic method because it makes people feel less uncomfortable and provides a slight feeling of anonymity. 

5. The Harshest of Drug Test Facts: Be Prepared for Possible Termination

If someone at your workplace gets injured, they’ll need to take a drug test to confirm that the accident was not a result of drug use. These tests can often be difficult since you might be forced to let someone go.

If an injured employee tests positive for drugs, you’re not obligated to fire them, but many employers choose to do so in order to protect their interest. Being under the influence of drugs on the job is a serious safety hazard not only to the employee in question, but to coworkers as well.

6. Know the Law

Even if your business in a state where marijuana is legal, you still have the right to drug test and make your own hiring and termination decisions. It’s important that you or human resources have a good understanding of the current drug testing laws in your state.

If you already have a drug-free workplace policy, then you’re entitled to test as you see fit. 

7. Be Wary of Prescription Drug Testing

It’s no secret that prescription drug abuse is skyrocketing, and many users are doing so illegally. On the other hand, if you test for prescription drugs, you could be losing out on a potentially great employee simply because they actually do use and need a legal prescription medication.

If you decide to test for prescription drugs, have the person bring documentation or a copy of their prescription proving that they are allowed to take them. The process will be a bit more complicated for everyone if you choose to use this testing method.

8. Pick Your Battles

Drug testing can be both time-consuming and costly. It’s important that you determine which line of work should or should not bother performing a drug test.

If you’re in the transportation, construction, or manufacturing sector, then drug tests are a must. If you operate a small office, it might not be as prudent that you test people.

The choice is yours, but you should weigh the pros and cons of drug testing before you decide to make it company policy.

9. Prepare for Refusal

You may run into a situation where someone refuses to take a drug test. If it’s a new hire, then they most likely have automatically forfeited their chance at the position, especially if drug testing is required for all new employees.

Other situations might arise where you decide to do random drug testing, and someone you’ve already hired refuses. In cases like this, you’ll need to really ponder where or not you should proceed with the test or let the person go.

Drug Testing Works

You can protect yourself, your company, and your assets with drug testing. These drug test facts can help you weigh the pros and cons of testing and if the process is right for you.

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