When counseling a new client, I normally ask if they have a written drug and alcohol testing policy. If the company is fairly large, it normally has such a policy. I do, however, occasionally receive a response from smaller companies that they do not have such a policy, and some, in fact, will even say that their employees do not drink alcohol or use drugs. Statistics of overall drug and alcohol use by U.S. employees suggest otherwise, and provide a sobering reminder that drug and alcohol use in the workplace causes lost time, injuries and other problems.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that:

The National Council and Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. reports that:

Given these statistics, all businesses should consider whether implementing a drug and alcohol testing program is a prudent idea. If such a program is adopted, it should be described in a comprehensive written policy communicated to all employees prior to the commencement of testing. Employers need to decide what type of testing will be done, which could include pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion, and post-accident. It is important that the written drug and alcohol testing program comply with state law on the right to test, collection and chain of custody of samples, the testing of the sample, notification to employees, the right to re-test the initial sample that produced a positive result and the potential consequences of a positive result.

A comprehensive written drug and alcohol testing policy can greatly enhance a company’s ability to provide a safe and productive work environment for its employees. Members of the firm’s employment law section are experienced in drafting, implementing and answering questions about drug and alcohol testing policies.

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