Whether an applicant is looking to be hired into a safety-sensitive position or they are a current employee being transferred into this type of role, chances are, they will be required to submit to drug testing. This is critical because an employer does not want an employee on the job if they are under the influence of drugs that could compromise their safety or ability to perform their job. But if an applicant opts not to undergo drug testing, is that automatically considered a test refusal? Not necessarily.
Informing Applicants of Their Rights
Before any testing takes place, applicants have the right to know what is required. Employers must provide these requirements in writing. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) outlines when and what testing is necessary for employees who hold (or are applying for) safety-sensitive positions.
Can Applicants Say No?
Once someone applies for a job or transfer and they find out that drug testing is required, can they decide to say no, they don’t want to participate? The short answer is yes, they can. If an applicant decides that they don’t want to take the test – and they have not yet been given a collection cup – they can withdraw from the hiring process. This is not considered a test refusal because the process was not started. However, this also means that they are no longer eligible for the position since drug testing is a requirement.
What Counts as Test Refusal?
Once an applicant receives a collection cup, they must move forward and comply with the testing requirements. If at this point they interfere with the process or decide to leave early, this is considered test refusal. All test refusals must be disclosed to DOT-covered employers for two years.
Other factors that may be considered test refusal (aside from not completing the test) include:
- Leaving the testing site before permitted or refusing to allow monitoring of the specimen provided.
- Wearing any type of prosthetic device that may alter testing.
- Not taking additional tests or having a medical exam when required.
- Not providing enough urine for testing without a valid medical reason.
- Failure to comply with any aspect of testing.
- Confirmation that the specimen was altered or substituted either through admission by the applicant or discovery by the Medical Review Officer.
Is Alcohol Testing Required?
Certain positions may require pre-employment alcohol testing, but not all do. It depends on the agency and job. However, if it is deemed necessary, it must be consistently and fairly enforced. Once again, applicants must be informed of the testing requirements, and testing should only be conducted once a contingent offer of employment is extended. Results must be negative before the employee can begin working.
Setting Applicants Up for Success
Communication is key when it comes to hiring. Applicants should be well-informed regarding testing requirements and how the process works. Let them know ahead of time how much time is required for testing so they can make plans to be available for the duration of the test. This can help curb test refusal designations for applicants who may have been good candidates but had to leave early because they didn’t realize what the process entailed or how long it would take. Be upfront about expectations and testing guidelines as well.
Supporting Employees Who Do Not Pass Required Drug Testing
While employers are not required to pay for evaluations or treatment for employees who do not pass mandated drug tests, they must provide employees with a list of DOT-approved substance abuse professionals in the area. This gives employees options to seek the help they need for recovery so they can potentially return to the job in the future. (Remember: if an employee fails a drug test, they must be immediately removed from any safety-sensitive role.)
Experience Recovery provides a wide range of addiction treatment services to individuals in Orange County, California, so they can overcome substance use disorders. From detox through after care, programs are individually tailored to meet the needs of each client. Furthermore, Experience Recovery is a DOT-approved substance abuse treatment provider. Get your employees on the road to recovery through our Return to Work Program. Contact Experience Recovery today!