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What happens when you have an employee who is required to take a DOT drug or alcohol test—and the test comes back positive? The short answer: As an employer, you are legally required to remove that employee from any safety-sensitive, DOT-covered activities, and to refer that employer to local, DOT-qualified substance abuse professionals (SAPs). You do not have to pay for evaluation or treatment, but you can’t put your employee back on the job site until he or she completes the DOT Return to Duty process, under the guidance of the SAP.

But what does this return to duty process entail, exactly? What should your employee expect? And how long will it be before you can put your employee back in the field? In this post, we’ll address each of those questions.

How the Return to Duty Process Works

The process always begins with an evaluation. The employee will meet with the SAP face-to-face, and the SAP will evaluate the nature and extent of the individual’s drug or alcohol problem.

Here it may be helpful to point out that SAPs are clinical professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of addiction. Not only that, but they have received special recognition from the DOT—and furthermore, they maintain key professional credentials and submit to ongoing education about the latest in addiction treatment. These are truly the leaders in the field of addiction care.

During the evaluation, the SAP will recommend some treatment options or educational opportunities for the employee. The employee is then expected to submit to these treatments; again, as the employer, you are not required to pay for this. You only have to make sure your employee is aware of the options.

Once the employee has completed the treatment and/or education, he or she will meet with the SAP again. The SAP will then declare whether or not the employee is fit to return to duty.

Key point: The SAP will simply determine whether the employee is eligible to return to work. As the employer, it’s your call whether or not you want to bring this employee back on board.

The Timeline for Return to Duty

The employee and the employer alike will want to know just how long this process will take—and unfortunately, there’s no easy answer here. It’s really up to the SAP, who may recommend varied treatments to different individuals, just depending on the nature and the extent of the substance use problem.

Full inpatient treatment can typically take a matter of months, but that isn’t going to be necessary for every employee who tests positive for drugs or alcohol—so ultimately, it’s just something you’ll have to address with the substance abuse clinician you work with.

Addiction Recovery Options from Experience Recovery

If your employee needs an addiction rehab program in the Orange County, California area, make sure to give Experience Recovery a call. We provide customized clinical treatments for those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, and we have ample experience treating working professionals. We can provide treatment plans that get your employees back to work as soon as possible, all while prioritizing their health and wellbeing.

Experience Recovery is proud to be a leading provider of addiction recovery care in the Orange County area, and to offer a full spectrum of services from detox to after care. Learn more about our addiction recovery programs by contacting the Experience Recovery team directly.