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HR Questions: How and When to Drug Screen

GEA Blog
by Mike McCurdy
GEA Executive Director

Drug Screen Banner Image

Georgia Employers’ Association receives numerous questions from members each week. Many are straightforward. They involve confirmations of a decision or clarification or a law or regulation. Occasionally, though, we receive an inquiry that gets more complex.

A Drug Screening Conundrum

Last week, one of our members called to ask about sending an employee to be drug screened for cause. This kind of question can arise when an employee is under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs. It’s a situation that requires investigation and documentation.

HR may witness the employee’s behavior, but frequently an incident or situation has occurred in the plant or elsewhere on the premises. It’s important to identify all witnesses and ask them to document what they have seen. Their accounts should be recorded in writing and they should date and sign their statements.

The next question involves how the screening should take place. One procedure would be for the company to use on-site testing kits to conduct the initial screens. If the initial screen is positive, then the sample should be sent to a third party lab for confirmation. The employee should be suspended until the outside results are received.  (See the note below)

Alternately, the employer must determine who will take the employee to the ER or medical facility. Frequently this will be a supervisor, but many companies also use security or safety personnel. If there is no other way to transport the employee for testing, then the company should pay for a cab or an Uber for transportation.

It’s possible that the employee may object or even become hostile in response to the process. He or she should be warned that authorities will be called if their behavior becomes dangerous to themselves or others.

Even if an employee is obviously intoxicated, companies can incur significant liability if they don’t have an established policy for drug screening. The policy should document the kinds of occurrences that can initiate drug screening and the process that will be followed. It should be presented to employees during new hire orientation and be posted on information areas or the company portal.

HR and Legal Advice from GEA is a call or a click away.

GEA’s HR and Legal Services are a valuable benefit for our members that is included in the annual membership investment. For years, we referred to the association’s HR and Legal Services as the HR Hotline. Today, most of the questions come in by email. The red phone is out of date, but the questions are still very important. We’re available to provide solid answers, a second opinion on a decision, and sound advice. When legal issues arise, we can obtain an opinion or arrange a short consultation with an attorney from the Constangy, Brooks, Smith, and Prophete law firm.

Not a member yet? Many of our members tell us that the value of GEA resources far exceeds the cost of annual membership. Read more about HR and Legal Services and other GEA member benefits on our member benefits page.

 


Note: Chuck Wade, State Director of Drugs Don’t Work in GA, responded to the initial post of this article with additional information regarding on-site testing. State certified drug free workplaces in Georgia are not permitted to use on-site options for Reasonable Suspicion drug tests. On-site tests may only be used for pre-employment testing, “blanket” testing, or random testing. Under the state certification program, drug tests for reasonable suspicion, post-treatment, or fitness for duty must be conducted at a lab.