Strategies to Follow After a Failed Employee Drug Test
A failed employee drug test can be an awkward situation for all parties involved. Check out advice on how to approach your employee and avoid drama.
As a business owner, you want to trust and depend on the people in your employ. It’s hard to imagine a valued employee using drugs that could compromise their job, or even your company.
The truth is, 70% of illegal drug users are employed. This staggering statistic is reason enough to institute an employee drug test policy. But, what do you do if an employee tests positive?
Read on for advice on how to best approach a worker who tests positive in a drug screening.
A Professional Employee Drug Test Policy
When developing a company policy for drug testing, establish rules that are published ahead of time. This makes sure employees are aware of possible tests. Include information about testing frequency, the types of tests, and the consequences of failing.
Don’t play favorites or change the rules based on the position an employee holds. Don’t avoid taking action or applying testing across the board just because of seniority or personal relationships.
Many times, a positive test will result in excuses from the employee. They may blame second-hand exposure, false testing, or many other possible causes. Remain calm and listen, with the intent to follow through and investigate.
Confirm a Positive Test
Employers should notify an employee of a positive test as soon as possible, and request a retest. Always use qualified labs with verified chain-of-command and medical review officer.
Always give an employee a chance to take a second test to either confirm the presence of drugs or identify a false positive. An employee can then clarify any missed prescription medications or other factors of their test result.
Consider the Law
Your business attorney should review your policy before you introduce it to the workplace. If employees test positive, follow up with your lawyer regarding local and state laws.
Some states have strict requirements about an employee’s right to work after a positive test. Your state might mandate a second chance or certain considerations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Remove and Rehabilitate
You should immediately remove an employee from the work environment upon testing positive. Termination is not always the best solution, though. Especially for a first offense, consider granting the employee a chance to complete treatment through an employee assistance program.
An independent EAP can handle screening, referrals, and assessments. Hiring an EAP will maintain a professional relationship between you and the employee which can help reduce drama. They can also provide follow-up support to employees in recovery.
Using an employee assistance program will also make the expectation very clear to an employee. Those unwilling to use the program will face automatic termination. Those who complete the counseling and treatment but fail future drug tests may also be candidates for termination.
Positive Support Culture
Retaining a good employee who fails a drug test is often a win-win situation. Their completion of an EAP can lead to long-term sobriety through regular support and follow-up.
This saves you money and time, prevents accidents, and makes the workplace safer. Employees who complete a program and keep their job will be more productive when free from drugs. In addition, investing in your employees builds trust and loyalty.
Always maintain the employee’s privacy and dignity as much as possible. Though you should be firm with them about the potential consequences, reinforce the idea of employee support during their recovery.
Valuing the health and safety of employees creates an environment with less stress. This can, in turn, lead to less risk of substance abuse in the first place. Invest in your workforce to help them be the best they can be.
Make sure any recovery or “second chance” program includes a signed agreement. An employee should understand that their job status depends on completing treatment.
Upon returning to work, this employee should focus on recovery and reorienting themselves to the workplace. Allow for a probationary period with lighter responsibilities and privileges. Consider requiring subsequent drug tests or supervision until a probationary period has expired.
Medical Marijuana Provisions
Though medical marijuana is legal in many states, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be a problem in the workplace. Your state may carry employee protections for medical marijuana use. Make sure you are aware of worker rights in this area.
Employees who are permitted to use medical marijuana are not permitted to exhibit signs of impairment on the job. If you suspect someone us using medical marijuana at work or is under the influence, document any signs or behaviors.
Just as with prescription drugs, it’s wise to have a policy in place. Require workers to report any medical or prescription drugs they take that could compromise job safety or create a positive on a drug test.
Should an employee show signs of intoxication or impairment on the job due to prescription drugs, consult with your EAP and a medical professional in order to serve disciplinary actions and a treatment plan follow-through.
Offer Comprehensive Healthcare
Employers can discourage drug problems in the workplace by maintaining a drug-free workplace policy. In addition, healthcare plans that offer comprehensive drug treatment and rehabilitation will encourage better lifestyles.
Create workplace wellness programs that promote healthy living and destigmatizing addiction. Place the welfare of your employees as a top priority to encourage a culture of safe, healthy workers.
Drug Testing is Not a Punishment
If you have to confront a worker about a positive employee drug test, it can seem like a difficult task. Having a solid policy and plan in place will help make the process easier. Follow the steps outlined here so you know what actions to take to avoid embarrassment or undue hardship in the workplace for you or your employees.
Drug testing is not a way to punish your employees but should be a way to encourage worker health and safety. Build a culture of wellness that makes workers feel able and willing to use treatment services.