Employee drug testing is allowed for people who are working from home. There are many facets of our work and personal lives that have changed since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. Several non-essential businesses and employees quickly turned into remote work, called “work from home” (WFH). More than 40 million Americans have lost their jobs. Enterprises are dealing with many critical changes they are trying hard to adapt to.
Making sure that employment drug testing policies are updated for a radically changed work environment is one of these important items.
How COVID-19 Is Affecting Employment Drug Testing
For companies that drug test workers in normal times, the COVID-19 pandemic presents a few challenges. The act of drug testing raises questions about safety, social distancing, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Luckily, most drug tests are conducted in health care clinics that are well prepared to handle these risks. Most drug testing places remain open, but workers will need to be ready to come in wearing masks and follow rigorous social distancing protocols.
The tests haven’t changed, but the worker may sit farther away from the specialist when doing the paperwork. Collection sites should be sanitized following OSHA guidelines, and these safety precautions should be communicated to employees. Hence, they are aware of what steps are being taken to safeguard their safety?
Drug Testing Remote Employees
Due to the sudden and dramatic shift to remote work, there’s a risk of increased alcohol and drug use for people that aren’t used to being home all the time. The advanced medical and economic strain, together with the closure of most social gathering places, has resulted in a 55% increase in alcohol consumption than this past year.
Drug use may be rising as well for the exact reasons. Therefore, companies must continue to follow their routine drug testing guidelines because specific stress-related consumption does not impact their workplace.
Drug testing remote workers who suddenly find it more difficult to resist using drugs presents the possibility that employees may push back. To clear up misconceptions, companies should restate to remote employees any regulations which govern their industry. They should also remind employees that their alcohol and drug policy continues during any work from the home period. It must be obvious to employees what the company policy is, in addition to the consequences of non-compliance.
DOT Drug Testing During COVID-19
Luckily, organizations that test their workers according to government ordinances are not navigating this alone. Government agencies such as the Department of Transportation have recently updated DOT drug testing guidelines during COVID-19.
DOT guidance advises employers, employees, and service representatives about what to do if random alcohol and drug testing cannot occur, in addition to the protocol for how to report situations where a test was delayed or denied because of health issues related to COVID-19.
It isn’t unreasonable to imagine that an employee with a chronic disease or is at a higher risk category for COVID-19 might be unwilling to attend a laboratory or violate social distance guidelines to submit to a urine sample or breathalyzer. If this happens, it’s a fantastic idea for companies –even non-DOT businesses –to refer to those well-thought-out protocols to guide their response.
Determining whether a worker refuses a test or leaves a collection site for legitimate reasons is always a tricky area for companies, and the pandemic only makes it more difficult. DOT’s guidance about refusals, however, is substantially unchanged: “It’s the employer’s responsibility to assess the conditions of the worker’s refusal to check and determine whether the worker’s activities should be considered a refusal.”
Keep in mind that staff laid off for over three weeks may have to acquire a pre-employment DOT drug test when getting back to work as if they were a new hire.
Drug Testing Furloughed Employees
The employer cannot examine or drug test employees who are put on leave while they aren’t working. However, when workers are returned after being furloughed for a month or longer, they are usually treated like new hires. Many companies ensure that their employee reinstatement procedure includes all the normal onboarding requirements and pre-employment drug testing.
Everyone hopes that the market returns to normal quickly. Nevertheless, it’s essential that firms –and the people they hire–understand what is at stake. Even though more people are working remotely or being furloughed or outright laid off, it’s apparent that one thing hasn’t changed in corporate America: Drug use is still not tolerated. If you need a job, you will get tested.
Safety of Drug Testing Collection Sites During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Coronavirus pandemic has caused significant changes to companies and everyday life throughout the nation. As nations begin phasing into reopening plans, companies implement various safety measures to improve office procedures and be sure that others feel safer while going inside the building.
Employers who use employment screening solutions are apprehensive about sending workers to collection sites because of the risk of being vulnerable to COVID-19. However, just as with other companies, collection sites have implemented security procedures.
What Changes Are Made?
Despite the common misconception, employee drug testing collection sites are a safe place to send your employees during this period. The collection site industry as a whole has implemented new processes from an abundance of caution to ensure a more reliable environment.
We have chosen three business leaders to highlight how they’re tackling this challenge while also operating thousands of websites combined throughout North America during this worldwide pandemic.
Quest Diagnostics understands the importance of good hygiene and social distancing practices as they continue to operate their centers nationally. With over 2000 locations, Quest Diagnostics has implemented strong safety procedures to protect donors and workers from coming into contact with the coronavirus. Because of this, daily cleaning patterns have increased, including regular disinfecting of all surfaces, use of hand sanitizer, and much more often hand washing.
No COVID-19 testing occurs in the facilities, and people seeking COVID-19 tests are being asked not to enter. Furthermore, each day’s first hour is reserved for the most vulnerable people: individuals who are 60 years old or older or have other conditions that place them at higher risk for COVID-19.
As another trusted collection site partner and industry leader, Concentra has also taken measures to mitigate risks of COVID-19 vulnerability and to ensure companies that their facilities are safe for donors. Concentra has employed the following safety protocols and processes across their centers:
Signage posted on front doors of every facility requesting donors with COVID-19 symptoms to return to their vehicles and call for screening queries.
- All donors are needed to wear a mask while inside the building.
- All Concentra employees are needed to wear the right PPE at all times.
- COVID-19 testing is not available for the general public, only for Return-to-Work testing
DISA Global Solutions
DISA Global Solutions collection sites have also implemented new safety measures and have spent considerable time and effort in reworking collection site procedures to further protect customers and employees.
- Have enhanced cleaning processes
- Require an initial risk questionnaire when donors enter the facility
- Decrease overcrowded waiting rooms
- Let donors wait in their car.
- Do not test for COVID-19.
Should I Proceed With Drug Testing?
Historically, national disasters have contributed to increased substance abuse, and together with all the COVID-19 pandemic, we already see similar figures. Even though it’s understandable that companies are worried about exposing their workers to the coronavirus, it is essential now more than ever to keep on implementing drug testing practices.
During stressful times such as these, people tend to rely on self-medicating to ease anxiety, stress, fear, and/or depression. With the opioid crisis and the legalization of marijuana across countries, substance abuse has been problematic before the COVID-19 pandemic. When handling employee drug testing positivity rates, it was discovered that marijuana specifically went up 21 percent in April 2020 vs. April 2019 and saw a shocking 37.8% rise in positivity rate while comparing May 2020 to May 2019.
As lockdown orders are lifted and workers start re-enter the workforce, companies will need to employ drug testing practices like pre-employment testing, random testing, and reasonable suspicion training and testing.