Here are 7 things you need to know.
Drug testing for employment is a common practice used by employers to ensure their workforces are safe and free from substance abuse. If you’re a job candidate and you’re asked to take a drug test as part of a background check process, it’s important to understand the basics of drug testing and how it may impact your employment prospects.
1. When Drug Testing May be Required
Employers are allowed to require drug testing for various reasons, including pre-employment screening, random testing, and post-accident testing. Some employers may also require periodic testing for certain types of jobs, such as those involving heavy machinery or public safety. In addition, many industries mandate that employers conduct drug tests.
2. Types of Drug Tests
The most common methods for conducting drug tests are urine, blood, hair, and saliva. Urine tests are by far the most common and can detect drug use for up to several days after use. Blood tests can detect drugs for a shorter period of time, but can also detect the presence of alcohol. Hair tests are more expensive but can detect drug use for a longer period of time. Saliva tests are less common, but can detect recent drug use. Again, industry mandates may dictate the method an employer must use, but often the choice comes down to convenience and cost.
3. What Drugs are Tested For
Drug tests typically screen for marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, and PCP. Some tests may also screen for alcohol, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates. You can ask the drug testing center to tell you what screening panel they are using for your test.
4. Legal Requirements
Employment drug testing is subject to legal restrictions. Employers must comply with federal and state laws regarding drug testing and cannot discriminate against applicants based on protected characteristics such as race, gender, or disability.
5. False Positives
Drug tests are not foolproof and false positives do occur, often as a result of certain medications, foods, or supplements. It’s important to inform the testing facility if you’re taking any prescription medications or have recently consumed any food or supplements that may cause a false positive.
Drug testing results are typically confidential and must be kept secure by the employer. However, in certain circumstances, such as legal proceedings or workers’ compensation claims, the results of your test may be subject to disclosure.
7. Consequences of Failing a Drug Test
Failing a drug test can result in the withdrawal of a job offer, disciplinary action, or termination of employment. However, some employers offer an opportunity for the employee to seek treatment or rehabilitation before taking disciplinary action. If you have questions about specific consequences, refer to your employer’s drug testing policy.
The Bottom Line
Employment drug testing is a common practice. Candidates should be aware of the different types of drug tests, legal requirements, and consequences of failing a drug test. In addition, it’s important for candidates to be honest with potential employers and disclose any prescription medications or supplements they may be taking that could affect the test results. At the end of the day, the best way to ensure you can pass a drug test and secure the job you want is to avoid drug use altogether.