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I’m not required to conduct employee drug screening – Why should I do it?

Should you? Only you can decide the risk-reward of an employee drug screening program, but we’ll give you some food for thought.

  • Establish healthy and safe work environments
  • Show employees that you care about their health and safety
  • Productivity improvement
  • Reduce workplace injuries
  • Decrease exposure to workers’ compensation claims

Ok, how does it work?

There are a couple of ways to carry out employee drug screening testing. The most common are

  • Instant drug testing kits
  • Lab-based drug tests

What’s the difference?

Instant drug tests are the most convenient and least expensive upfront option. But they could also open you up to potential liability when used for employment decisions. Issues that arise can include questioning the veracity of the chain of custody, mishandling of the specimen, missing validity testing, and lack of review by a Medical Review Officer (MRO). Lab-based drug tests are not as convenient and are more expensive. But it minimizes the potential liabilities you would have with an instant test. A lab-based test has a built-in process to assist with this:

  • Chain of custody process
  • Handled by professionals
  • Includes validity testing (ensures that the specimen is consistent with a human sample)
  • Medical Review Officer (MRO). An MRO reviews non-negative (industry jargon for potentially positive), and even negative results.
  • Using a lab to conduct your drug screening will also provide you with multiple testing methods.

Drug tests available at a lab:

  • Urine

– Detects the presence of substances within 24 hours up to a few days of use

– Rapid testing is available

  • Hair

– Detects the presence of substances from a week to 90 days of use

  • Saliva

– Detects the presence of substances from the very recent use of 12-24 hours

What else should I consider when using Lab-Based tests?

  • Are their locations convenient for you and your candidates?
  • If you are in a rural or under-served area, what testing locations are available
  • Does their scheduling allow for an easy appointment setting?
  • Do they accept electronic chain of custody forms?

How can you navigate drug screening easily?

Implementing a drug screening program requires thought and consideration. You will want to make sure you have a drug screening policy and are aware of the federal, state, and local laws. With all these factors in mind, HR Preferred leans on drug screening experts to help clients navigate this process and build confidence in their employee drug screening program.

Gain HR confidence in drug screening and background checks by having a conversation with your screening provider. Share pertinent information with them so they can help you out. Which states do you work in? What positions do you hire? What does your recruiting process look like?

This information helps a screening provider deliver a preferred application and background check method.


This information is provided as a courtesy, may change, and is not intended as legal guidance.

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