Drug-free workplace programs must adhere to legal considerations such as privacy, search and seizure, and discrimination, and operational procedures, such as how to handle reasonable suspicions. Every initiative to promote a drug-free workplace should begin with a drug-free workplace policy. It offers standardized procedures for implementing your program. Employees should also be informed about the policy’s expectations of substance abuse and the consequences of violating it. Creating a drug-free workplace policy is an important step any employer can take to ensure their business is as safe as possible.
Statement of Purpose
The statement of purpose explains the company’s commitment to creating a safe, secure, and productive work environment. An organization’s statement of purpose should tell you what they want from their workplace policy, what they mean by “substance use,” and how they came up with it. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recommends that companies covered by drug-free workplace laws include in their statements that the purpose is to comply with applicable laws or regulations.
Coverage Under Your Drug-Free Workplace Policy
The policy should cover all types of employees, whether they’re full-time or part-time, seasonal or temporary, or interns. Certain businesses might only cover certain professions that carry a lot of risks, but others might cover everyone. You may want to restrict the program and policy to some positions if your state’s drug-free workplace laws allow it.
Definitions ensure that there are no misunderstandings regarding the meaning of the terms in your insurance policy. Consider carefully defining the following:
- Company property
- Refusal to drug test
Employee Assistance Program
In case an employee or a family member is suffering from an alcohol or drug issue, you can provide them with a list of resources. Additionally, you need to outline how mandatory referrals would work if you offer a second chance to an employee who tests positive. Collaboration with an employee assistance program (EAP) is an option for your business. This program covers employees with substance use disorders. However, they must use an EAP before violating the drug-free workplace policy. Your policy should outline the following for an EAP:
- What your EAP can offer
- EAP referrals to other providers and whether the company will cover the costs
- Employment, advancement, or job security are not affected by EAP participation
Rules and Expectations
There are a number of areas and situations covered in the rules of expectations of your policy. The document should include:
- Use of illicit drugs, including state-specific regulations regarding marijuana use as medicine
- Over-the-counter and prescription medications
- Consumption, purchase, or possession of alcohol at work or at work-related events, or when traveling on business
- Expectations of a drug-free work environment for on-call personnel
- Drug use during off-duty hours
- Observance of drug testing requirements
Testing Applications and Procedures
Since drug testing is a search and seizure, it’s important to provide details about the testing procedures. If the results are negative, then adverse employment actions may follow. Your policy can include the procedures for these types of testing applications:
- Pre-employment testing for applicants prior to starting their new jobs
- Post-accident testing
- Fitness-for-duty drug testing for aviation and trucking companies
- Random testing for drugs
- Reasonable suspicion testing occurs when supervisors test employees who display signs of drug and/or alcohol abuse. A supervisor may conduct a reasonable suspicion test if they suspect an employee is currently using drugs and/or alcohol.
You should also include evidence standards for reasonable testing, including physical signs of impairment, significant declines in work performance, and drug possession or dealing. Additionally, the policy should specify what drugs are being tested for. Additionally, be sure to inform employees of the workplace procedure for contesting or appealing a positive drug screen.
Consequences of Program Violation
Clearly state what the consequences are for violating your drug-free workplace policy. Many companies have zero-tolerance policies, but some offer second chances. Before returning to work, employees who violate the policy must undergo rehabilitation. Upon returning, they must undergo follow-up testing for an agreed-upon number of years according to your policy.
Alignment with Business and Human Resource Policies
Keeping a drug-free workplace policy in line with other business and HR policies is important. To keep your policy up-to-date, it is best to run it by your legal counsel at least once a year. Be sure it covers everything you do in your drug-free workplace program, and that any changes to the law are considered.
Transparency is Key for a Drug-Free Workplace
A drug-free workplace policy will enable management and personnel to implement policies and operations more carefully. Your employees should receive a copy of your policies and procedures, as well as the opportunity to ask questions and receive guidance. All supervisors and managers must receive training on the program’s operations and any forms needed to administer the program. When you have a clear drug-free workplace policy, it will protect your company and its employees’ well-being.