Follow-up testing involves an employee returning to work after rehabilitation for a substance abuse problem. But, before an employer can return the person to work in a safety-sensitive job, a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) must determine that the employee successfully complied with the recommended treatment and education.
The employee must then have a return-to-duty test and the test result must be negative. The SAP will also develop the employee’s follow-up testing plan – outlining for the employer the number and frequency of follow-up testing that will take place.
Once returned to work, they must complete the follow-up testing program consisting of a series of drug and alcohol tests spread out over a period of time as determined by the SAP. These tests can be for drugs or alcohol or both. The SAP must direct at least 6 follow-up tests in the first 12 months after the person returns to safety-sensitive duties. However, the SAP can direct more tests and may extend them for up to five years.
If the employee was not terminated all together, the employer is then responsible for ensuring that the employee is tested according to the SAP’s follow-up plan. The employee is tested at unannounced random intervals to ensure that the individual remains drug-free. Also, the test cannot substitute other tests (such as random testing) for follow-up testing.
Testing must be conducted in strict confidence with only a limited number of company officials having knowledge of the selection and the employee receives no advanced notice of selection to maintain the element of surprise. However, be sure to allow enough time before notification for supervisors to schedule for administration of the test and to ensure that Work Well, PLLC or our nationwide collection sites are open for testing.
For the integrity of the testing process the employee cannot know anything about your SAP’s plan for follow-up testing and all Return-to-duty and follow-up drug testing must be under direct observation. When an employee is notified, he or she must proceed immediately to the collection site. Immediately does not mean two hours. Immediately means that after notification, all the employee’s actions must lead to an immediate specimen collection. Do not allow employees to go unescorted to their lockers, personal vehicles, or work stations after notification and if unescorted, establish an expected time of arrival. Make it clear to your employees that there are consequences for failing to appear for any test within a reasonable time.
Important Facts To Remember
1. If employee was not terminated, these tests are the employer’s responsibility to conduct.
2. Follow-up tests must be unannounced.
3. You cannot let the employee know anything about your SAP’s plan for follow-up testing.
4. You cannot substitute other tests (such as random testing) for follow-up testing.
5. Return-to-duty and follow-up drug testing must be under direct observation.
Work Well, PLLC can assist you in establishing an effective follow-up drug screening protocol or revising your existing program to help you avoid any negative situations that can impact your business, regardless of size or industry.
To get started with your follow-up drug testing contact Work Well, PLLC for more information at 713-670-7161.