Misuse of alcohol and drugs is usually a cause of injury and accident, which is why a lot of companies test their applicants and people that are already employed. Alcohol and drug abuse impair an individual’s ability to perform basic and day-to-day tasks.
It will result in an increased risk of injury and accident, reduced productivity, and putting themselves, as well as people around them in harm’s way. It is the company’s responsibility to create a safe working environment for people in the company.
Substance screening is a suitable way to make sure a drug-free working environment and the appropriate method to weed out employees that had a drug use history. But company owners cannot just go around the office and demand to their employees to submit themselves to drug screening, that is illegal in some states.
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Workers or employees have rights, and these rights need to be protected at all cost. But there are ways to create a drug-free work environment while protecting the business and the employees legally. It this article, we will take a closer look at some actions, businesses can take to create a drug-free work environment, as well as discuss the obligations and rights of the company and their employees.
How can businesses test their employees, as well as their applicants?
Testing applicants and employees are based on the company’s whim is not legal, even if the business has a reasonable doubt. The bad news is, there are no specific laws that require consenting adults to submit to mandatory substance tests. But some regulations and laws enable companies to request their employees to undergo substance screening within the boundaries of the law.
To do this, businesses must first establish an in-depth written drug-free work environment policy, complete with the necessary elements. These legal elements consist of the statement of purposes, implementations, definitions of illegal substances, definitions of terms, and the responsibilities of both the employers and employees.
Every employee and applicant need to get a copy of the said policy for them to read, date, and sign. By signing the policy, the employee or applicant empowers the company to legally request a mandatory drug screening, which is to be conducted in certified and state-approved labs. But there is a catch – a lot of them.
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The Do’s and Don’ts
If the business has a drug-free work environment policy in place, they need to notify the applicants about their mandatory screening. Depending on the location where the business is operating and the laws in that place, the notification might be compulsory for companies, and for the sake of this article, let us say it is. Businesses can achieve this by stating that they are running an illegal substance-free workplace in their job postings.
This way, applicants will know that they are required to submit themselves to these procedures. After collecting the applications and interviewing them, they need to decide who to hire before giving them copies of the policy. In short, companies cannot request, an individual to submit to a screening without offering that individual with a job first.
After offering the applicants the job, businesses need to issue them a copy of the policy, for them to read and sign. If the person refuses to sign the policy, the company does not have legal grounds to request a drug test, but they have the right to withdraw or not offer the applicant a job offer. If they sign the policy, they are giving the employer permission to request a mandatory illegal substance screening, at the employees’ discretion.
In case the test result from the drug testing company came back negative, the employer can hire the applicant. A positive result is a different story. If the applicant is positive for any forms of illegal substances, the risk of hiring them a greater compared to the reward, the company will get. The reason is that, according to federal law, all drugs are illegal.
It also includes cannabis, whether or not they are legal in the state the company is operating. The fact is, there is still no federal law that makes cannabis legal in every state. Not only that, although states that allow medical or recreational use of cannabis provides employment protections to workers, but none of them protect workers who are impaired in the workplace because of cannabis use.
When it comes to people who are already employed, the situation is pretty different. Assuming that the business already had a policy in place, they can tell the employees, as long as they follow to certain rules. First of all, businesses need to provide the required notice about the mandatory screening.
There are only a handful of states in the country that allows random screening for illegal substances without prior notice. Make sure to talk with an attorney that specializes in labor laws or a human resource expert about state laws, because it differs from state to state.