What Is Random Drug Testing?
Drug tests are used to screen for illegal or prescription substances using several different methods including collecting urine or hair follicle samples.
A random drug testing program is where the employer selects one or more employees from a pool to be randomly within a certain time frame to be subjected to screening. Since it is completely random and computer-generated, the test is unbiased.
Other times when drug testing can be performed include pre-employment drug screening and reasonable suspicion testing, where at least two members of management need to document potential evidence of an individual’s drug abuse such as bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and extreme changes in the employee’s mood or demeanor.
Who Can Benefit?
An employee drug screening policy comes with a host of benefits. Drug abuse hinders productivity and makes for an unsafe workplace. For example, heavy equipment operators at factories not only move thousands of dollars worth of inventory, but they drive in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic. The manufacturing industry experiences a rate of 7.4 percent of employees who abuse drugs currently, and 9.7 percent who currently drink heavily. While it’s impossible to make sure employees don’t use drugs, a random testing policy can be a deterrent from abusing drugs or alcohol if employees know they can be tested at any moment.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission mandate that safety-sensitive employees undergo random testing. Safety-sensitive employees include:
- Bus Drivers
- Truck Drivers
- Nuclear Power Plant Employees
Risks and Legal Issues
A comprehensive pre-employment background check and drug screening program can go a long way to ensure you hire the best people. The screening prior to employment looks for criminal history, red flags in previous employment history, and can even produce results regarding driving records. The organizations listed above that can benefit from random testing need to continually assess their people and make sure those great new hires remain the best possible employees.
Each state has different laws when it comes to substance abuse and determining whether or not employees are using, and your company will need to be abreast on those regulations. Two federal laws need to be taken into account:
1. The American with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from discriminating against otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities and are usually required to give the employee reasonable accommodations to perform his or her job. The ADA provides employees who take prescription drugs under a licensed medical professional’s care protections. The ADA does not, however, provide protection for illegal drug abuse. If an employee tests positive for prescription drugs, the ADA grants the employer permission to ask about the prescribed drugs. If the individual has the prescription drugs for a disability that qualifies, the employer must find out if the employee needs an accommodation to carry out his or her essential job functions.
2. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
Title VII prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating potential hires based on race, color, religion, ethnicity, and sex. Drug testing policies must have consistency, and they must not target certain employees. Failing to test fairly and consistently can result in a legal claim. Testing policies should be put in writing and followed to the letter by management.
How to Implement a Random Drug Testing Policy
Your company must have a drug screening program already in place in order for a random testing policy to be legal. Employees must be given the opportunity to review this policy, as a best practice have them sign an acknowledgment form that acknowledges they understand your policy. In addition, you will violate anti-discrimination laws if, for example, you include an employee on the sample pool because you suspect drug use. Use the following guidelines when creating a random drug testing policy.
"Testing intervals" refers to the amount of time during which tests occur. For example, the tests could happen in 30-day intervals. The test day should be a random day, rather than on a specific day such as every third Friday. When an employee is selected for a random test, he or she should have little time to report the facility for screening.
Choosing Employees at Random
For the test to be fair and unbiased, it makes sense to include all eligible employees in your sample pool. It does not make sense to have all of those employees tested at once, however. Narrow the number of tested employees to a number that is feasible for your organization.
Use a Third Party for Drug Screening
When you enlist the help of a company such as CNet Technologies for your pre-employment and random drug testing needs, you can rest assured that all applicable laws will be taken into account, so your company stays compliant. CNet only uses reputable vendors for the actual testing, and even though the services do come at a cost, your organization can save thousands of dollars in the loss that typically comes with employee drug use. Learn more about what to look for when selecting a partner in pre-employment screening and drug testing.