It depends.

Clearly if the employee has been terminated, he can’t be tested.

But what if he’s sick when the on-site drug test collector shows up? Or he’s on vacation?

For non-regulated (N0n-DOT) employers, it’s really up to the employer and the written drug-free workplace policy. It’s recommended, though, that you follow the DOT model for random testing.

For DOT drug testing, following are the best practices according to ODAPC (Office of Drug & Alcohol Policy & Compliance) when a selected employee is not available.

Best Practices:

  • If an employee selected for testing is known to be unavailable during the selection cycle 
(legitimate extended absence, long-term illness, etc.), document the reason and make-up the rate shortfall by making another selection, or make an extra selection during the next selection cycle. 

  • An employee is selected for testing but has not received notice since it is his day off, test the employee during his or her next shift within the same selection cycle.
  • No employee should be excused from testing because of operational difficulties. See your industry specific regulations and interpretations for legitimate exceptions. 

  • Once the employee is notified to report for testing and the test does not occur, the opportunity for the random testing is over. There is no second “bite of the apple.”

For instance:

If Max is out sick on the day of testing, he clearly should be tested in the current selection period as opposed to testing an alternate employee. If Max is out for the entire selection period, then an alternate may be selected. Or, the shortfall for the selection period can be made up in the following period, provided it’s not the final period of the year. You need to meet or exceed the minimum random testing percentage for the year.

The last bullet point regarding the second “bite of the apple” is one that merits particular attention. Under DOT guidelines, when an employee is notified of a random test s/he must proceed IMMEDIATELY for testing. Not tomorrow. Not when the shift ends. Immediately.

The employer gets to decide when to notify the employee, but once notified, the employee’s next actions should result in a drug test without undue delay. If he does not proceed immediately, it is a refusal to test.

Random testing is important for any drug and alcohol testing program, regulated or not. It is the most effective deterrent to drug and alcohol use in the workplace. But if not managed properly and consistently, it loses its effectiveness.

Properly managed employee drug testing benefits employers and employees alike:

  • Saves lives
  • Prevents injuries
  • Improves productivity
  • Helps employers identify workers with substance abuse issues – and gets them help
  • Enables employees to easily say no to illegal drug use. (“No, thanks. They drug test at work.”)
  • Reduces employer liability

Can employee drug testing be accurate and fair? If it’s not, you’re not doing it right. Get in touch with us to set up drug testing at your workplace.