The Importance of a Good Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy
It’s becoming more common for employees to take employers to court over their drug-free workplace programs. With the rise recreational and medicinal marijuana legalization, it’s more important than ever for employers to have a good drug and alcohol testing policy in place to ensure that if a court case arises, the employer is protected.
What makes a good policy? A defined purpose, regular review, and the inclusion of a variety of testing methods. Companies can easily make the mistake of assuming that policies are “one size fits all” and not update their policy regularly or tailor it to their location. Employers need to be aware of applicable state laws, departmental regulations, workers’ compensation laws, unemployment compensation laws, medical and/or recreational marijuana laws, federal regulations, and case laws. Good policy takes all of these into account, in addition to implementing regular updates in order to ensure compliance.
A written policy serves as the blueprint as to how your company will achieve its vision of a drug-free workplace. Critical components such as drug testing, alcohol screening, employee education, and employee assistance services help employees understand the comprehensive nature of the company’s approach to keeping their work environment safe.
A good policy sends a clear message to employees and job applicants that your company does not tolerate substance abuse. With a written policy in place, communicating its purpose to all concerned, no employee can come back later and say “I didn’t know” in response to a positive drug test.
With a policy that adheres to all applicable state laws and federal regulations, in combination with consistent and regular enforcement and updates, employers have a ready-made shield against legal liability that protects them. While acting in good faith, this shield safeguards them when a company takes legally permitted adverse employment action with employees that choose to violate the policy.
A written policy communicates to employees and job applicants the company’s position on all the critical issues. Additionally, regular updates ensure compliance with the myriad of ever-changing state laws and federal regulations, in addition to strengthening an employer’s ability to provide a safe and secure working environment for employees and the general public.