Can Employers Require Employees to Undergo Drug Testing?

Jun 20, 2019
Reading Time: 2 minutes
Written by Aditi Ramesh
The aim of drug testing in the workplace is to determine whether existing or prospective workers use drugs. Drug use can impair the performance of workers and impact the overall productivity and profitability of a business. Employees that are under the influence of drugs can pose a risk to their own safety and to others around them. Drug testing is important for employers to protect the success of their company. Many jobs require employees to undergo drug testing before they receive the job. However, you can still ask your employee to take a drug test anytime if you reasonably suspect that they are a threat to the business.

‘Reasonable suspicion’

Having a reasonable suspicion means that based on all logical facts, you believe your employee is using drugs. If your employee is exhibiting any of the following behaviour, you should be alert for potential drug use:

  • Possession of drugs
  • Abnormal conduct
  • Evidence that they have tampered with their drug test results
  • A reliable source claiming they are influenced by drugs

Federal, State and private employees can all be subject to drug testing. Employees dealing with classified information, national security and other people’s lives are highly likely to be subject to drug testing. Workers such as train drivers who need to be constantly alert, will also require drug testing.

Steps to take:

  1. Your policy – ensure you have a drug testing policy implemented in your employment agreements.
  2. Observe and document any suspicious behaviour
  3. Meet them and discuss your findings
  4. Request a drug test
  5. Make a decision to terminate or offer an assistance program based on the results

What happens if your employee has a positive result?

As an employer, you have the right to terminate your employee for a refused or failed drug test. However, you also have the choice of sending them to an employee assistance program where they must cease drug-use. If they continue to use drugs, they will be lawfully terminated. Your employee may also feel that their drug test results were inaccurate. Since results are not always accurate, they have the right to ask to be retested. Keep in mind, your employee might have a claim to unfair dismissal if you use the drug results as an excuse to terminate them.

What if your employee refuses to participate in drug testing?

If your employee refuses to take a drug test, they may be subject to immediate termination. If they refuse this prior to being hired, you may reject their application on this basis. However, you cannot force an employee to take a drug test, they must do so with their own consent.

Final thoughts

Implementing a drug policy is the best way to require drug testing from employees. You are legally entitled to do this drug if you have a reasonable suspicion that your employees are using drugs. If you are still unsure, you should contact an employment lawyer for more help on whether you can require drug testing.

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