Employers can choose from a variety of pre-employment screens during the hiring process, including pre-employment drug testing. Keeping a drug-free workplace can help reduce workplace accidents and injuries. For the sake of safety, extra precautions are necessary for particular sectors. Employees who will operate heavy machinery, for example, must be able to do it safely.
If you’re considering pre-employment drug testing, we’ve put up a quick guide to answer some of the most often asked questions.
Table of contents
- What Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing?
- Types of Pre Employment DrugTesting
- Why is Drug Screening Important?
- What Drugs Are You Testing For?
- Beating a Drug Test
- Employer Options
- What Happens if you Test Positive on a Pre-employment Drug Test?
- Can You Retake a Drug Test?
- How to Conduct a Pre-employment Drug Test
- 1. Draft a written policy and procedure
- 2. Provide notice of your intent to conduct pre-employment drug screens or random drug screens
- 3. Obtain written consent
- 4. Select a drug testing site
- 5. Track the chain of custody
- 6. The drug test is completed
- 7. Medical review is performed
- 8. Results are provided
- 9. Take action
- Four Common Myths about Drug Testing
What Is Pre-Employment Drug Testing?
Pre-employment drug testing is often a requirement for people applying for a job. Depending on the state, it’s possible for employees to be tested for drugs and alcohol in their workplace. Employers may use several different drugs and alcohol tests. Commonly, urine tests, blood tests, breath tests, saliva tests, and sweat tests are used to detect drugs and alcohol.
Types of Pre Employment DrugTesting
Drug and Alcohol Screening
Drug-testing rules differ based on the state in which a person is applying for a job. Employee drug testing is required by law in some states. Both federal and state law needs a drug and alcohol test for anybody seeking employment in an industry regulated by the United States Department of Transportation, for example. The location and method of pre-employment drug testing are restricted in some states.
Breath Alcohol Tests
Blood alcohol levels can be measured using breath alcohol testing equipment, sometimes known as breathalyzers. These gadgets, however, can only detect present blood alcohol levels and not previous alcohol usage.
Blood Drug and Alcohol Tests
Many firms will utilize a blood drug test to check for illegal drugs in job seekers. Alcohol in the bloodstream at the time the sample was got can be measured using blood testing. Alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, nicotine, and opiates are among the drugs that these tests are used to detect.
Hair Drug Tests
A hair drug test can reveal drug use from up to 90 days ago. These tests can detect prior usage, not current impairment, and they do not detect alcohol. Cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, opiates, and phencyclidine can all be detected with hair testing.
Mouth Swab Drug and Alcohol Tests
A mouth swab drug test identifies substances in employees’ or job seekers’ saliva. Oral fluid tests and saliva tests are other names for these tests. Mouth swab testing can reveal recent drug use in as little as a few hours or as long as two days. These exams are widely used by employers since they are simple and noninvasive.
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Urine Drug and Alcohol Tests
A urine drug test is the most prevalent sort of pre-employment drug testing. It is possible to identify illegal drugs or alcohol in someone’s urine after the effects of the substance have worn off. Amphetamines, alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates, nicotine, and marijuana are all commonly detected via urine tests.
Many firms, particularly in specific sectors, may do random urine tests on existing workers besides pre-employment drug testing.
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Why is Drug Screening Important?
Drug screenings, random employee drug tests, and reasonable suspicion or post-accident drug tests are all critical ways to ensure workplace safety. In the United States, illicit drug usage is a major issue.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 57 million Americans aged 12 and older reported to using illegal drugs in the previous year, with almost 36 million admitting to using in the previous month.
Employees who abuse drugs are more likely to skip work, be late to work, often change employment, be engaged in workplace incidents in which others are hurt, and submit more workers’ compensation claims, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Pre-employment drug testing and regular employee screens are important for workplace safety and can help organizations reduce attrition, improve employee morale, and save money.
The value of pre-employment and routine drug testing for candidates and workers is clear in several businesses. Transportation businesses that recruit truck drivers, taxi drivers, and bus drivers, for example, should conduct drug tests as part of their hiring procedures.
The transportation business is likewise governed by stringent rules that include pre-employment drug tests and random driving tests. These drug tests should also be considered in other areas, such as construction and health care, because of the potential for safety hazards.
Employers in a variety of sectors should do pre-employment drug tests because of the cost savings and potential liability concerns that might otherwise emerge.
What Drugs Are You Testing For?
A 5-panel or 10-panel drug test will be used by most companies. 5-panel drug tests detect the following drugs:
- Marijuana (THC)
- Codeine, heroin, morphine, and other opiates
10-panel tests can detect:
If a person isn’t actively using a narcotic such as cocaine, heroin, marijuana, meth, or PCP, the 5-panel test should be easy to pass. Medical marijuana, for example, may not be identified since the THC has been eliminated. Prescription medicines such as Adderall, hydrocodone, Novocain, oxycodone, and penicillin may also be detected. Some weight-loss drugs, as well as prescription pharmaceuticals including Ativan, Rohypnol, Valium, and Xanax, can be detected using 10-panel testing.
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Beating a Drug Test
It’s a typical occurrence for individuals to worry if they can “beat” a drug test. Drugs can stay in your system for a long time depending on a variety of conditions, including:
- Your metabolism
- The concentration or dosage of the drug you used
- Frequency of use
- Type of drug and drug test
- Sensitivity of the test
Some tests, such as those that employ hair and nail clippings, can detect drug use that happened six months before to the drug test. Urine diluting can tamper with drug test results. Tainted urine is frequently detectable.
Employers, contrary to popular belief, may conduct random drug tests on their employees regularly. They also may test their staff for illicit drug usage if there is a reasonable suspicion of it. Many companies would request a drug test within a short time, ensuring that the suspected employee does not have time to deceive the test.
While urine is the most typical specimen type for employers, a range of other specimen types can be obtained. Employers might enhance their employment process by using an electronic drug test.
What Happens if you Test Positive on a Pre-employment Drug Test?
Your sample will be submitted for confirmation testing if you test positive on a pre-employment drug test during the initial screening. If the confirmation test also comes back positive, a medical review officer will go at the sample’s chain of custody and the results.
Depending on the results, the MRO may call you to ask about any medicines you take that might explain the positive test. If your sample tested positive for benzodiazepines, for example, you may be questioned if you have any current prescriptions for this type of medication.
It’s possible that an MRO will not contact you. Instead, speak with a human resources representative at the organization where you applied to learn about your findings. If you fail a pre-employment drug test, you will almost certainly be disqualified for the job.
Before conducting pre-employment drug testing, a corporation must explicitly show that an offer of employment is conditional on the candidate passing a pre employment drug test. This sort of remark might be made in a job advertisement, a conditional offer of employment letter, or another formal document.
If you make it apparent that your offer is conditional on you passing a drug test, the potential employer has the authority to cancel it if you fail the test. Some businesses ask applicants to consent to random drug testing after they are recruited. If the employers fear that the candidates are using drugs on or off duty, that might impair workplace safety and performance.
You can request that your samples be retested after your potential employer informs you that your drug test was positive. If the lab took a split specimen sample, the second sample will be kept for possible retesting if the first sample is positive. If the lab only took one sample, it could preserve a portion of it for possible retesting.
If a medical review officer informs you that your drug test was positive, you have 72 hours to request a retest. This request can be made orally or in writing. The confirmation testing will be triggered if you request a retest of the original sample or the split sample. The expense of the retest will be your responsibility, and you should be prepared to do so.
If you request a retest in a timely manner, the medical review officer will send a written notification to the lab instructing them to submit the portion of the first sample or the split sample. The MRO will notify the company of the time and date of your request for retesting, as well as whether or not the retest confirmed the positive result.
Between an interview, a job offer, and your pre-employment drug test, a period usually passes. If you cannot do without the drugs during this time, evaluate if therapy may be beneficial to you.
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Can You Retake a Drug Test?
When you fail a pre-employment drug test, you may request a retest at your own expense as mentioned above, but you do not have the right to retake a pre-employment drug test. If you disagree with the findings, your original sample will be retested. There will be no need for you to submit a fresh sample.
How to Conduct a Pre-employment Drug Test
You should examine federal and state rules and regulations before implementing a drug-testing program at your organization to ensure that you meet the criteria.
Following that, take the following measures in collaboration with legal counsel.
1. Draft a written policy and procedure
Make sure your drug-screening policy is documented and follows all applicable federal and state laws.
2. Provide notice of your intent to conduct pre-employment drug screens or random drug screens
Applicants and employees must be informed before their employer’s intention to conduct a drug test. Ensure that the applicant or employee receives this notice in writing as a separate form.
3. Obtain written consent
After you’ve placed your order for a drug test, you’ll receive an email from the applicant or employee asking for their consent to be tested. The candidate must sign this document to give his or her permission for the drug test to be administered.
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4. Select a drug testing site
After an applicant or employee has given their approval, they will be directed to a location where they can complete the test.
5. Track the chain of custody
From the time the candidate’s sample is collected until it is analyzed and disposed of, the chain of custody will be tracked. Candidates are given a form to fill out and must carry it with them to the testing location, along with a valid photo ID.
6. The drug test is completed
At the collecting site, employees and candidates deliver a urine, hair, or saliva sample. To minimize the possibility of false positives, they should be asked to bring any current medicines.
7. Medical review is performed
A medical review officer will review the test findings to guarantee accuracy. If the test results are positive, the MRO will verify the candidate’s medical records and prescriptions, as well as to conduct a confirmation test on the sample.
8. Results are provided
Both you and the candidate or employee will check the findings within one to three days. In most cases, candidates are only told if their findings are favorable.
9. Take action
If you decide to hire someone based on the results of a background check or a pre-employment drug test, you must follow the Fair Credit Reporting Act’s adverse action process before making your choice.
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Four Common Myths about Drug Testing
Both employers and employees believe a variety of falsehoods about drug testing in the workplace. It’s simple to see why pre employment testing is so vital for a happy and productive workplace after quickly debunking a few of these fallacies.
- The most common misconception concerning drug testing is that it has little to no impact on workplace safety, however, this is not the case. Several studies have found that drug use contributes significantly to an unsafe work environment, with some estimates showing that drug and alcohol use causes one out of every six workplace deaths.
- Another misconception is that marijuana can remain in your system for months or years after use, making it easy to detect on drug tests. Marijuana only stays in your system for 3 to 7 days, thus a drug test will only identify this substance if it is taken within a week after ingestion.
- There is a prevalent assumption that drug tests are insurmountable. It is possible to cheat a drug test, although it is tough. Diluting agents, substitution agents, and oxidizing agents are all common strategies to sabotage these tests.
- Finally, there is a view that drug testing frequently produces false positives, rendering them unreliable and ineffective. This myth has a grain of truth to it because false positives do happen. False positives are not as common as many people believe, and can simply be avoided by running a second confirmation test.
If you determine that drug testing is in your company’s best interests, conduct thorough research to assure legal compliance and be open and honest with prospective employees about the process. The advantages of having a safer and more productive workforce outweigh the disadvantages.
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