Why is drug testing in the workplace crucial?  The answer is simple.  If you want to ensure a safe environment, retain honest employees, increase productivity and reduce absenteeism then drug testing and background checks are a must.  Regardless if you are a small business or large, in construction or corporate, drug and alcohol testing should be a critical part of your hiring and employee retention process and decision-making.  Recent numbers indicate that 85% of employers and business owners currently have valid drug testing policies in place that is enforced via pre-employment and random drug testing/background checks.  This percentage is only going to increase as employers develop an understanding of the far-reaching and negative consequences of drug use and abuse in the workplace.

While 90% of employers are only drug and alcohol testing pre-employment candidates, the ongoing random testing of current employees is on the rise as well.  The following are suggested times/reasons when drug testing should be performed:

1) Pre-Employment – Offer of employment should not be confirmed until results are received

2) Random – Employees should never know when/who will be tested next

3) Post Accident – Forklift accidents, car accidents, suspected work-related harm to or theft of customers/clients, etc.

4) Reasonable Suspicion – This can include suspected theft, sudden change in personality, fellow employers witnessing drug use, accidents on the job

5) Pre-Transfer/Promotion – It is suggested that you consider this “pre-employment” drug testing of sorts

6) Return to Work/Duty – Upon return of an employee who was suspended due to confirmation of drug use

It is also a must that your company has a current drug test policy that has been created and maintained by a drug test consultant.  All employees must receive a copy of the drug test policy.  Once employees have signed a form stating they are aware of the drug test policy, random drug testing for any reason can begin.

Highlights of the NC Controlled Substance Examination Regulation Act:

Q: Are employers required by North Carolina law to conduct drug testing?
A: No. Examinations are not required, but they are highly recommended.

Q: Do employers have to have a written drug testing policy?
A: No. However a written policy is essential to a successful workplace drug use prevention program.

Q: Under what conditions can I require my employee to take a drug test?
A: An employer can establish conditions and circumstances such as post-accident, random, safety-sensitive, pre-employment, follow-up or reasonable suspicion.

Q: As an employer, can I conduct drug tests on-site?
A: Prospective employees may perform rapid drug screens on site, provided that all non-negative (presumptive positive) samples are sent to an improved laboratory for confirmation. All current employees must have sample sent directly to an improved laboratory to perform the screening and confirmation, if applicable.

Q: What if my employee refuses to take a drug test?
A: You may remove them from employment consideration or terminate employment.

Q: What happens if I believe the urine sample has been diluted or contaminated in some way?
A: You can refuse to use the sample provided. It is recommended that you have the sample tested for the following adulteration categories: temperature, pH, specific gravity, amino acids, addition of bleach/peroxide, and more.

Q: I have an employee who is less than 18 years old. Do I need parental consent to perform a drug test?
A: According to the NCCSERA (North Carolina Controlled Substance Examination Regulation Act) parental consent is not required. It is recommended that if you have any concerns that you consult with your attorney before requesting drug tests on minors.

Q: If a parent (or anybody for that matter) requests copies of drug test results, am I allowed to provide them?
A: Only with consent of the employee/applicant.


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