Employers should update their drug testing policies now to take full advantage of a beneficial state law taking effect Nov. 1.
“If you don’t change your policy by Nov. 1, you are contractually obligating yourself to the old law after Nov. 1,” said McAfee & Taft attorney Charles S. Plumb. “This is a good time to kind of wipe the slate clean and ask ourselves, ‘What do we need as far as drug testing?'” While employers face no deadline for changing their workplace drug testing policies, putting off this alignment prevents them from taking advantage of several improvements designed to help businesses improve workplace safety and better contain their unemployment and workers’ compensation costs, all by streamlining employee drug testing regulations.
The new law – written in a simpler language despite the involvement of 24 attorneys – should make it easier to seek and enforce drug testing, eliminating the required list of substances and introducing “for cause” testing while replacing the “reasonable suspicion” test with “reasonable belief.” “You don’t want it to be technical,” Plumb said of the new law. “You want your employees to get it. We’re not trying to trick people. We’re trying to keep it simple for both employers or employees.” The new law outlines six areas for requiring drug testing, with broad definitions to account for patterns of negative performance, suspicions of test result tampering, or excessive unexplained absentees or tardiness.
“This is an important tool for employers to keep a safe workplace and I would put that in my policy,” said Plumb. “You never know when you might need it,” Anderson said OSHA statistics demonstrated how such signs often point to drug or alcohol abuse.