If you’re looking for a new job or you are currently employed, there’s a chance you may be asked to do a Employment Drug Tests.
Most often, employers will use a urine drug test, which is one of the three most common types of drug screenings. Urine tests have a rapid turnaround time, which is one reason they’re among the most commonly used.
The following are important things to know about employment drug screenings.
1. What Is a Pre-Employment Drug Test?
A pre-employment drug test is something an employer would ask for to make sure a prospective new hire doesn’t abuse prescription medications or illegal drugs.
These drug tests can also be used if an employee is coming back to work after an absence or injury. If that’s the situation, it may be called a pre-placement drug test.
It’s common for employers to ask candidates to do a drug test, and the offer of employment may be contingent on passing.
The legality of drug testing employees or candidates depends on the state, but generally, it is legal in every state.
Some of the common restrictions on employee drug testing include that the applicant has to know in advance that taking a drug test will be part of the screening process, and applicants for the same job have to undergo the same type of test. The tests usually have to be administered in a state-certified lab.
3. Random Drug Testing
Along with pre-employment drug screening, there are random drug tests that some employers might use. Random drug tests are meant to improve workplace safety and help prevent injuries and accidents.
When an employer conducts random drug tests, they’re choosing the employees they’re going to test randomly, and the employees don’t get prior notice. Employers have to use a number generator to make sure the employees are equally likely to be selected.
One type of random drug testing is DOT random testing. The Department of Transportation (DOT) regulates companies that are in certain industries, and it requires they conduct compliant random drug tests regularly.
These five-panel screens look for amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, phencyclidine, and opioids.
There is also non-DOT random testing, which can be done as long as it’s in compliance with laws in the state.
If an employee is randomly chosen, they have to submit a drug test within a short window of time. It’s most often going to be a urine test. The employee provides a urine sample, and then a medical review officer can do a confirmation test if there’s a positive result.
In several states, random drug testing is limited or isn’t allowed, so check your state laws.
4. Other Drug Test Situations
Along with the pre-employment screening, random screenings, and screenings when someone returns to work, other scenarios where drug testing may be done include:
Periodic testing: In these screening programs, all employees are screened at certain times of the year. It’s common in industries like manufacturing.
Post-accident: If someone was in an accident at work, post-accident screening might be done to determine if an employee’s substance use caused it.
Reasonable suspicion: Employers might be able to conduct reasonable suspicion drug tests if they have evidence or reasonable cause that an employee is using drugs.
Follow-up: If an employee has violated the drug and alcohol policies of their employer or they’ve tested positive for substance use in the past, their employer might do follow-up testing.
5. Reasons Employers Conduct Drug Tests
An employer might drug test employees or job candidates for any number of reasons. For example, they may do it to be compliant with state or federal regulations.
If an employee is misusing drugs, it can affect the safety of other employees and customers. That can lead to injuries and accidents, as well as high rates of absenteeism.
Employers might also do drug testing for high-risk positions.
Some employers see testing as a deterrent to substance misuse.
6. Drug Testing Methods
Again, the most often used method of drug testing employees is a urine test. A urine drug test can determine if someone uses drugs, even after they have stopped using them. There are a lot of substances that can be detected in a urine sample, including cocaine, opiates, amphetamine, alcohol, and marijuana.
Another option is a hair follicle test. These tests can show the use of drugs for up to 90 days afterward.
These aren’t invasive because they just require a few strands of hair to be submitted as the sample.
Finally, some workplaces use a saliva test, which is easy to read, with results being rapidly available.