Available Soon: Instant COVID-19 "Coronavirus" Tests for U.S. Customers and International Customers.

Random Drug Testing – Know Your Rights

Published on: December 19, 2018

Written by: Confirm BioSciences.

Drugs are here to stay, which is why random drug testing in the workplace is a foolproof way to reduce occupational health risks and improve employee productivity.

What is Random Drug Testing?

Random screening is arguably the strongest deterrent to drug use. Basically, no announcement is required before an employer issues a random drug test; however, this method of testing must be clearly articulated and agreed upon by every employee. Random selection should be conducted electronically to ensure equal and fair screening among all workers.

Choosing a Drug Test

Different factors should be considered before deciding on the type of drug screen to implement in a workplace testing program:

  • Type of drug(s) used
  • Frequency of drug(s) used
  • Concentration or dosage of drug(s) used
  • Donor’s metabolism
  • Desired turnaround time for results

What Drugs do Employers Test For?

What drugs do employers test for

It’s easier than ever before to find and use drugs. The most widespread substances in the workplace are not limited to:

  • Alcohol (ALC)
  • Nicotine (COT)
  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Cocaine (COC)
  • Ecstasy (MDMA)
  • Methamphetamine (mAMP)
  • Prescription opiates (OPI)


Types of Drug Testing

There are many ways to screen for drugs of abuse. Keep in mind detection times and drug concentration cutoff levels will vary depending on the specimen being tested (urine, saliva, or hair).

Urine Drug Testing

Urine test cups and dip cards are traditional drug screening options. This testing method is affordable and easy to conduct. Employers who opt for urine testing typically select the most popular 5-panel, 10-panel, and 12-panel groupings; however, it is possible to test anywhere from 1-16 drugs of abuse with a single urine test. Urine test offers a broad range of industry applications.

Saliva Drug Testing

Mouth swab drug tests are non-invasive, instantaneous, and comprehensive. These tests are more accurate than ever before, and some varieties even include color indicators to show you when enough saliva is collected. Saliva drug tests are a staple among staffing and recruiting professionals looking to source new talent.

Hair Drug Testing

Hair drug tests combine the accuracy of laboratory testing with the privacy of home screening. A hair follicle exam provides the longest history of substance abuse; this testing method can detect drugs 90 days after they are used. Hair drug testing is preferred by educators and counselors, as well as probation and parole officers.

Who is Required to Undergo a Drug Test?

Mandatory and random drug testing is required for all workers in safety-sensitive positions, including aircraft, railroad, motor vehicle, and machinery operators. This is to comply with the following organizations:

  • Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
  • United States Coast Guard (USCG)

Employees who display obvious signs of workplace intoxication should be asked to undergo a drug test, provided this scenario is documented in a drug-free workplace policy. A sad reality is many employees actually use drugs to meet work demands, which is why more than half of all businesses in the United States enforce drug testing.

What’s Included in a Random Drug Testing Policy

A random drug testing policy is a document that declares the requirements and conditions of drug screening within a facility or workplace. Drug testing laws will vary by state, so it is the employer’s responsibility to comply with legal requirements. Currently, 18 states impose provisions on federal drug testing laws.

Employees cannot be subjected to random drug testing if they do not agree to the documented policy at the pre-employment stage. HR professionals should inform candidates of this policy before extending an offer letter.

Once employees provide signed consent, employers are required to deliver training materials about the risks of substance abuse in the workplace.

What is an EAP?

An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) complements a drug testing policy. These programs offer rehabilitative services to employees who engage in frequent drug or alcohol abuse. Access to an EAP should be provided for anyone who displays signs of addiction or fails their drug test. If an employee successfully completes rehabilitation, they can be reinstated upon passing a return-to-duty drug test.

Benefits of EAP Programs

Most employers care about the health and wellness of their staff. When employees know an EAP exists, they will feel assured that they do not have to lose their jobs because they suffer from addiction. Not only does this build employee trust; EAPs also create a positive reputation among shareholders, suppliers and customers.

How Do Drug Tests Work?

Here is a basic framework of a typical drug test:

  1. An individual is scheduled to undergo a drug test at an accredited laboratory or collection site.
  2. The donor provides a biological sample using an instant drug test. Samples obtained via urine testing can be sent in for confirmation testing.
  3. Once donation is complete, a Third Party Collector (TPA) interprets the initial results.
  4. Positive test results are confirmed using GC/MS analysis. Findings are passed off to a Medical Review Officer (MRO).
  5. Employers are provided with Custody and Control Forms (CCF) from the laboratory for recordkeeping.

Process for Random Drug Testing

At least 50% of all employees should be randomly tested each year. Random drug testing should be performed on a weekly or monthly basis depending on the company size. Once employees have agreed to the company’s random drug testing policy, they can be randomized for selection:process of random drug testing

Appeal Process for Positive Employee Drug Test

Employees have the right to appeal a positive drug result. A formal, written appeal must be submitted to their HR representative within 48 hours of being notified of the positive test result.

  1. Once the appeal is received, a portion of the initial urine sample will be re-tested at the laboratory. New results should be delivered to the employer in 1-3 business days. If the new test result is negative, the employee will be cleared from any sanctions.

  2. If the test remains to be positive, appropriate sanctions will be given to the individual.

The test should provide a clear indication that the presence of a drug metabolite came from an illicit substance and not by any other over-the-counter medication, which can also possibly result to a positive drug test due to its similar drug structure. False positive results are likely to happen on certain medications.


If you’re interested in adopting random drug testing, we are happy to provide you with all the information you need. Tell us about your specific goals and we’ll find a custom solution for you.

Random Drug Testing – Know Your Rights