Having a workplace drug-testing program fosters a healthy work environment and keeps your employees safe and productive. However, employees can make many drug testing mistakes, since this is such a sensitive area. The consequences can be expensive and potentially fatal for both people and the company.
Here are the top 7 mistakes employers make when testing for alcohol and drugs.
1. Not having a written drug and alcohol policy
Having a well-written policy is the critical foundation of any drug testing regime. You cannot do any kind of meaningful drug testing without such a document in place.
Otherwise, among many other things, how will anyone know what course of action to take in the event an employee tests positive for drugs?
In your policy, the drug testing method, the specimen to be tested, and the consequences of substitution or dilution must be clear .
2. Having no clearly defined rules for when to administer drug tests
Some employers may find it satisfactory to state just a brief line about “the company reserving the right to conduct a drug and alcohol test if necessary.” This is extremely vague and will leave your organisation exposed to disputes.
In order to create an effective drug testing program, you need clearly defined rules. These rules must state how and when drug tests will be carried out. It also needs to include any special circumstances that might fall outside of a regular schedule.
This leads us to the next common mistake employers make when testing for alcohol and drugs.
3. Limited or unsuitable types of drug tests
A drug-testing program is only as effective as the type of drug test used. Depending on your circumstances, a urine drug test may not be sufficient to catch occasional illicit drug users. A hair drug test is more accurate since it can test for drug use in the last couple of months.
There are many types of drug tests available and it’s crucial to choose the one(s) that cover your company best.
4. Failing to order a drug test after witnessing suspicious behaviour
Your workplace drug and alcohol policy should also detail specific suspicious behaviours that merit a drug test.
Some examples of which are:
- bloodshot eyes
- productivity loss
- mood swings
- temper flareups
This prevents you from having to wait until the next blanket or random drug test before ensuring the employee is clear. You want to catch a problem early on and prevent incidents that may even endanger lives or livelihoods.
5. Vaguely defined consequences for failing a drug test
Some workplace policies simply state that “disciplinary action will be taken,” which may lead to discrimination lawsuits.
For instance, you may have chosen leniency for a long-term, high-performing employee, but then fired a newer employee. That ex-employee could easily file a case for unfair dismissal. In both scenarios, a clearly defined, thought-out policy will help avoid uneven treatment of staff members. It will also help avoid protracted court cases.
6. Not informing staff of changes / documenting their acceptance
Most companies roll out their drug safety programs with a good level of documentation.
However, if you do not have documented evidence that your staff members have all read and accepted the new program and its consequences, your program may not be enforceable.
Therefore, make sure you do not just have the right policies and follow them. Make sure all your staff have been fully informed and trained. You must have documentary evidence of this.
This is especially easy to overlook when you make adjustments to an existing policy or program. it is one of the most frequent drug testing mistakes we encounter.
7. Generic drug and alcohol policies
No two companies are 100 percent alike.
Your company’s circumstances, staff and communication will differ even from other organisations in the same industry.
This is why you want to have a tailored drug safety solution that really fits your needs.
Consequently it is time and money well spent to get this right. Avoid these drug testing mistakes with expert guidance such as our Drug-Safe Workplaces consultants.
Whichever approach to drug and alcohol testing you want to use, we will guide you in the creation of a comprehensive and legally sound drug and alcohol testing program that meets your requirements.