How Companies Can Address Drug Screening As Marijuana Laws Continue to Evolve

As marijuana laws continue to evolve, employers should begin to think through how to address drug screening. Some questions to consider include: What is your company policy? Where do you draw the line?

One day, marijuana use may be decriminalized throughout the nation, so companies should take a proactive approach and be prepared to flex with changing laws in the states in which they do business.

But before implementing a new policy or making any changes to your drug screening program, it’s critical to review workers’ compensation insurance requirements, clients’ requirements, current state and federal laws, and always consult with your company’s legal counsel.

Meanwhile, here are some thought-starters, and potential solutions, to begin to address this challenge:

  • Drug Screen Panel. There are highly detailed 10-12 panel drug screens. Meanwhile, a 3-5 panel drug screen that addresses the common “big hitters” typically costs 30-40% less. If you still want to screen candidates for illegal drugs but you’re not as worried about marijuana, you can opt to leave that specific substance out.
  • Drug Screen Method. Consider the method of your drug screen. Some methods such as hair sampling, will reveal substances used over a period of months. Other methods such as urinalysis and oral fluid sampling typically take a look at more recent use, often identifying substances used in the past 3-7 days. Are you concerned with an employee’s substance use that occurred months ago, within the past week, or within the past few days?

PREMIUM CONTENT: North America Legal Update Q1 2019

  • Second Chance Program. If you administer random drug screens, consider implementing a system that offers an opportunity for employees to redeem themselves when needed. If an employee fits certain criteria (ex: good worker, no previous policy violations, excellent attendance, etc.) create options for working with them to prevent a repeat occurrence. If you choose this route, then consistency is key. The criteria must be clear, well-defined and applied in the same way to all. Also keep in mind the position the employee is in and the nature of the work they are doing – safety should never be compromised. A second chance program could include a suspension period, or probationary period in which the employee fulfills an administrative or other minimal-risk role.
  • Drug Rehabilitation Program/Employee Assistance Program (EAP). There is no better way to show your employee that you care than by taking an interest in their health and well-being. While showing up to work under the influence or doing drugs on the job is grounds for immediate disciplinary action, if an employee has come forward with an addiction, consider assisting in paying for them to enter a rehab program where they can get the help that they need. One of our clients reported doing this with tremendous results. Almost every employee returned from the program with a renewed desire to work hard and be successful.

Staffing firms should ensure employees feel valued and are set up to be successful in their roles. Conducting an in-person interview and drug screen with every candidate before placing them can help ensure they are a great fit for the client company.

Sarah Sunderman
Sarah Sunderman is director of human resources, compliance and talent relations at Hire Dynamics

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