Drug testing your employees can be seamless when you have the right processes in place, but bringing up the topic may cause some uneasiness due to its stigma. Whether you have to inform an individual that it is time for a test or if you have to tell your employees about a new company policy, certain tactics can make this process flow easily.
It is important to document all aspects of the drug-testing process in order to keep track of what has been done; further, you will want to maintain records regarding all testing. If you’re introducing a drug-testing policy to your employees for the first time, it is important that you provide a detailed written explanation of the policy, circumstances that warrant drug testing, who will conduct the testing, and all other relevant information. This information should also be added to your employee handbook. If you are telling an individual employee that they’ve been chosen for a drug screening, consider using a standardized letter that informs the employee they’ve been selected and instructions for getting tested. You can hand this letter to the employee at the time you inform them about the test; don’t mail it and give advance notice.
A New Drug Policy
You can’t rely on written documentation alone to inform employees about drug screening. You will also need to have a conversation. If your company is implementing a new drug screening policy, it may be smart to call a meeting with all of your employees to explain the policy and give them the chance to ask questions. When you speak with your employees, explain that the main reason for screenings is to promote workplace safety and protect productivity, not to invade their privacy or punish them. Explain how the screening process will work, what the consequences will be if the test detects substances, and where to get answers for any additional questions. Some companies prefer to use a third party vendor to review the policy with the employees so that they can answer technical questions about the policy and about how the drug testing process will work.
Random Drug Screens
To inform an employee that he/she needs to take a random drug test, call him or her into your office or other private location. Briefly explain the company policy regarding drug screening and provide any written information. Make sure you have time to answer his questions. Answer any questions regarding the next steps he needs to take, where to go, and so on.
Drug Screens When Substance Use is Suspected
If the employee who is being tested is suspected of substance use, the conversation you have will be quite different. This is considered reasonable suspicion testing versus routine random testing. Before you speak to the employee, observe their behavior over the course of several weeks. Keep track of things like absences, strange behavior, reports from other employees, accidents, or decreases in productivity. Document everything specifically and objectively using a reasonable suspicion checklist. When you’ve made a thorough investigation, call the employee into your office. Make sure you have a member of human resources present to act as a witness. Present the information you’ve collected and tell the employee your suspicions. Give them a chance to explain. Be understanding, but also stress to the employee that safety is paramount. Inform them about the drug-screening process and what steps will be taken after the test results are obtained.
Nobody likes to have difficult conversations about drug testing. Keeping careful documentation of all testing policies and providing notice to employees both in writing and verbally will help protect your company and make all policies clear to employees. Above all, remember to emphasize the importance of workplace safety and productivity rather than making accusations or assumptions about employee behavior.