Any company considering implementing a drug testing program shouldn’t enter into the process lightly. The costs, time, and emotions involved can be overwhelming. Most drug users will avoid employers who test, while employees who avoid intoxication won’t appreciate having their privacy invaded. Still, some jobs require complete sobriety for the sake of safety, productivity, and the need for a full staff, so the possibility of testing serves as a deterrent to coming to work inebriated. Sometimes, however, the need to test—either after an accident or if an employee appears to be on drugs—is unavoidable. In these instances, here’s what to do if an employee fails a drug test.
Trust, but Verify
More than likely, you already investigated your employee’s background using custom background check packages or other means and have worked with them long enough to learn who they are. Drug tests aren’t 100 percent accurate, and there’s always a possibility the employee who seems intoxicated or high is experiencing some physical or mental issue giving that impression. Talk to the employee, preferably with an HR rep and lawyer present, to assess their physical and mental state and whether any extenuating circumstances apply. An interview with the doctor or medical personnel who conducted the test may also be in order.
It may well be that the employee’s prescribed medication is skewing the test results. Though you shouldn’t invade an employee’s personal medical business, you must determine the truth. Drugs and other substances that can produce a false positive include various weight loss pills, second-hand cannabis smoke and CBD oil, poppy seeds, antibiotics, anti-depressants, antihistamines, mouthwashes, and more. Naturally, a drug abuser may have excuses at the ready, but keep these in mind. It’s also important to remember to treat their addiction with compassion.
You must remove an employee demonstrating erratic actions, bad decision-making, and dangerous behavior from duty immediately. Do not allow them to operate machinery or conduct business until they agree to further evaluation and rehabilitation, even if they demonstrate sober behavior. They should not return to work until they prove they’ve participated in a rehabilitation program and passed another test.
When To Terminate
Know that firing someone for failing a drug test should be a last resort when considering what to do if an employee fails a drug test. Your company could experience a lawsuit in the event of a false positive test result. Review your drug testing policies. Offer rehabilitation services whenever possible. Finally, consult a lawyer about the local, regional, and federal laws covering terminations after a failed drug test.