An Employee Tested Positive for Drugs- Now What?
If your company does drug testing and one of your employees tests positive, it is important to know how to proceed.
First, you should follow your drug testing policy. Do you have a pre-employment policy? Do you have a “zero tolerance” policy, which means you would terminate the employee immediately? Do you offer a “last chance agreement”? Does your policy allow you to rehire the employee after a period of time once he has been terminated under zero tolerance? There are many things to consider when deciding how to handle drug use in your workplace.
As an employee assistance provider with over 20 years of experience working with employers, employees and drug testing programs, we strongly recommend the following:
- If you have a pre-employment policy, it is designed to rule out anyone who cannot stay off drugs long enough to test clean before they are hired. It does not ensure your new employee does not use drugs. It does however, tend to reduce the number of serious drug users or long –term marijuana users. This is why you definitely should use pre-employment drug testing and just don’t hire someone who tests positive! If someone knows they are being tested for drugs and tests positive anyway, why would you ever want to hire that person? Believe it or not, many companies still hire these people and then refer them to the employee assistance program under a Last Chance Agreement. We recommend that you NEVER hire someone who tests positive under a pre-employment test. Time and again, we have seen multiple problems arise with these folks.
- If you do have a zero tolerance policy, meaning you terminate if the employee tests positive, we do not believe you should rehire the employee after any period of time. Without proof that the employee has been abstaining from drugs, he may be able to test clean on a pre-employment test but will likely not remain clean through his employment at your company. It is just too much of a risk.
- If you do have a Last Chance Agreement, suspend the employee until he tests clean and has been assessed for chemical dependency and the need for treatment, and has followed through with that treatment. Once he has returned to work he needs to sign an agreement that he understands that if he tests positive again, he will be terminated. We recommend that you employ the services of an employee assistance program with expertise in working with drug testing programs. The EAP can help with a drug and alcohol screening, refer employees for an assessment to determine the need for treatment, and ensure the employee is following through with all recommendations. The involvement of the EAP keeps you out of the employee’s personal life and treatment process. It saves time and resources so you can be left to run the company while leaving the alcohol and drug treatment to the professionals. It also keeps things cut and dry- the employee knows the expectations and makes a choice as to whether to follow them or no longer be employed with your company. The EAP can help ensure long term compliance and sobriety by providing regular follow up and support to your employee. This creates a win-win for everyone. You retain a good employee which saves your company money, prevents accidents, and increases safety, thereby increasing your bottom line. The employee gets the help he needs to return to maximum productivity, keeps his job, and has the ability to live his life free from the grip of drugs.
If you are thinking about starting a drug testing program or engaging the services of an EAP, we can offer affordable, professional services for companies of any size. Contact us for more information. at 425-557-0907.