Return To Duty Drug Testing In Houston​


Your employee had a positive drug test or a positive alcohol test which was confirmed positive by a Medical Review Officer (MRO). Your employee further reported to a Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and completed the recommended treatment for substance abuse.

The employee is ready to come back to the workplace, now what? It is best practice to submit to a return to duty drug test before he/she may be returned to his/her position to ensure that the individual is free from drugs or alcohol.  Some employers also use this type of return to duty process for any employee who has been absent for an extended period of time.1,2

While most private employers are not required to perform return to duty drug testing or follow SAMHSA's guidelines, many employers wish to still follow DOT and The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 guidelines, because by doing so it will help employers stay on safe legal ground.

Court decisions have supported following the guidelines and testing for only those drugs identified in them and for which laboratories are certified. As a result, many employers choose to follow them.  

DOT regulations already require these employees to complete substance abuse programs before returning to their safety-sensitive positions. After completing such a program, employees must pass return to duty drug testing. Moreover, employers must also subject returning employees to a minimum of six unannounced follow-up tests in the first twelve months of their return to safety-sensitive duty.

During the return to duty process and follow-up testing of employees who failed or refused a drug test, employers must ensure that urine specimen collectors utilize "direct observation" procedures effective on August 31, 2009.  It requires that a same-gender observer watch the urine go from the employee's body into the collection container. In addition, employees must also raise their shirt or blouse above the waist, lower their clothing or underpants, and turn around in front of the observer, exposing their genitals. The purpose of this is to ensure the employee is not wearing a prosthetic device to cheat on the test.

The direct observation is also because the DOT believes there is a heightened incentive for an employee to cheat.  They concluded that employees returning after refusing or failing a test have a heightened incentive to cheat because of the heavy sanctions employers impose on repeat violators. In fact, the DOT pointed to data showing the failure rate for return-to-duty and follow-up testing is two or four times higher than that of random drug testing. 

Return to duty drug testing at work drastically improves workplace safety as well as on-the-job productivity. Drug testing companies such as Work Well PLLC are available to keep your workplace safe and productive through accurate drug and alcohol testing.

Are you considering the benefits of including drug testing in your company? Working with Work Well PLLC will allow you to develop a drug testing program that includes return to duty testing that will work for your company.

Work Well PLLC is a trusted company that can also assist an employer with random, DOT or pre-employment drug screening. Our company’s main goal is to provide hassle-free, convenient screening for our clients.  A prospective client can call 713-670-7161 to learn more about the company’s drug testing services. Every employer has the right to operate its business in a way that keeps its integrity levels high. Work Well PLLC can help to make that true.


1U.S. Department of Labor. Workplace Drug Testing. Available at:

2U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Workplace Programs. Reasons for Drug Testing. February 2005. Available at:

Please click to have a Work Well, PLLC specialist contact you, or call us today: 713-670-7161