Workplace safety can be enhanced or undermined by a variety of factors. One such factor is employee substance use and abuse. In an ideal world, this topic would not be an issue, but let’s be honest: substance abuse is a factor in society that sometimes finds its way into the working world. As an employer, you must be on the lookout for anything that could cause your operations to be less efficient or that might lead to an accident. Substance abuse is closely tied with both of these negative outcomes, so it is important to consider the subject when organizing your business.
In Arizona, drug testing is not required by law–with the exception of a limited number of particular job descriptions. By and large drug testing in our state is at the discretion of the employer. According to state legislation drug testing can legally be used:
- To help screen an applicant before hiring
- To terminate a current employee who test positive for controlled substances
- To suspend an employee (with or without pay) who tests positive for controlled substances
If you plan to drug test your staff, there are some considerations that you need to make as an employer. You are responsible for certain things associated with the testing and could be held liable for privacy issues
Requirement to Consider
- Screening facility- You must select a drug screening facility that is approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American College of Pathologists, or the Department of Health Services to ensure accurate testing by a facility that meets certain sanitation and scientific standards.
- Types of tests- You can require staff to undergo screenings that require samples of “urine, blood, breath, saliva, hair or other substances from the person being tested.” (Arizona State Legislature) The type of test used is at the employer’s discretion.
- Confirmation- If a candidate or employee does test positive for drugs or alcohol, you are required to have a second confirmation test performed to rule out the possibility of a false positive test. The confirmation test must be a different form of drug screening than the original test.
- Privacy- Regardless of the results of the screening, you cannot share them with anyone except for the employee/candidate; internal employees who are directly associated with the human resource or management functions directly concerning the screening results; or an outside arbitrator or judge who may be brought in to settle a dispute. Otherwise nobody–not internal employees or anyone else who might have an interest in the employee–is allowed to know the results of the test. If you go afoul of this point of law, expect to lose a lawsuit.
- Transparency- If you choose to screen employees you must be up front about your policies. Put it in writing in your employee manual and take other efforts to ensure that your staff is aware of your substance use/abuse policies. You must inform your staff of:
- Who can be tested
- How they will be tested with a description of the procedure
- Substances you test for
- Implications of a positive drug test (what actions you will take as an employer against staff who fail a drug test)
- A confidentiality statement
- The employee’s right to be provided with the results of the screening
- The consequences of refusing a test
This is a basic overview of the drug screening process in Arizona. These are statewide regulations, so an employer in Tempe is subject to the exact same laws as one in Flagstaff or Phoenix. If you would like a full listing of regulations feel free to consult with the Arizona State Legislature. If you would like reliable staff who can show up at a moment’s notice, consult Labor Systems Job Center online or call 877-522-7797. We will work with you to provide candidates who have been drug screened if that is your preference.