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Designated Employer Representative

DER - Designated Employer Representative

Every company covered by Department of Transportation Regulations that employs safety-sensitive employees, must have one (or more) Designated Employer Representatives (DERs). Any non-DOT employer with a drug testing person needs a person in charge of the drug testing program – these folks are also Designated Employer Representatives (DERs).

What is a DER? A common question and the answer derives from the DOT drug and alcohol testing program and regulation 49 CFR Part 40. Basically the DER is the person responsible within the workplace for the drug and alcohol testing program. The DER is the employee at the company authorized by the employer to take immediate action(s) to remove employees from safety-sensitive duties, to make decisions required in the testing process, and to receive test results. The DER typically runs the DOT drug & alcohol testing program at the company.

The DER overall responsibilities include:

  • Responsible for administering the Drug and Alcohol Testing Program.
  • The liaison with drug and alcohol testing service agents (TPA, C/TPA, collection sites, labs, MRO’s, SAP’s, EAP program).
  • The DER is informed of every test and its result.
  • The DER performs the functions necessary according to the results of the tests and is authorized by employer to take immediate action(s) including:
    • To remove employees from safety sensitive duties
    • To make necessary decisions in the testing and evaluation process
    • Receives test results and other communications for the employer
    • Follows company policy regarding the consequences of a positive test result or refusal to test.

The role of the Designated Employer Representative (DER) cannot be outsourced. DOT states the employer may not delegate the DER role to a service agent. Only the employer or an actual employee of the employer may perform this function. DOT will also not authorize a “DER-for-hire” concept (e.g., a person under contract by several companies to serve as their DER).

Many non-DOT employers are now using the DER term also to describe the person at the non-DOT company that is responsible for the drug testing program. It is extremely important for any company implementing a drug free workplace program to designate a particular person to have authority for the drug testing program. This person is typically from the human resources or safety department it can also be the owner of the company or a Vice President.

Why should an employer have a DER? This is an important position. First off it is required by DOT. It is also critical to have a responsible person to manage the drug testing program. Employers are responsible for developing and implementing successful workplace drug and alcohol programs with the following components: clear policies, provisions for education and training, drug and alcohol testing, and when needed referral for evaluation and treatment.

DER Training

US Drug Test Centers offers training programs for DER’s to learn how to do their jobs. This is a unique responsibility and training is critical. Live training can be arranged. Webinar trainings can be set up for groups of DER’s. A computer based online training program is also available so you can receive training from the comfort of your office, a computer with internet access is all that is needed.

The training courses for DER’s provide the DER with a thorough education of his or her duties as outlined in the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations for drug and alcohol testing (49 CFR Part 40). The course helps you understand drug testing terminology, specific modal regulations and their procedures for workplace testing programs.

Call today, (XXX) XXX-XXXX to discuss your options for DER training.

DOT Answers the Question on Outsourcing the DER

DOT DER Questions

QUESTION: Can the employer himself or herself act as a Designated Employer Representative (DER), as opposed to appointing another employee to play this role?


  • The employer (e.g., the owner of a small business) may act personally as the DER.
  • The employer may also appoint an employee or employees to play this role.
  • The DER must exercise his or her authority to remove an employee from safety sensitive functions either directly or by causing the employee to be removed from performing these functions (e.g., by having the employee’s supervisor effect the actual removal).
  • The employer may not delegate the DER role to a service agent. Only the employer or an actual employee of the employer may perform this function.
  • The Department will not authorize a “DER-for-hire” concept (e.g., a person under contract by several companies to serve as their DER), either.

What are the Specific Duties of a DER?

Specific Duties of a DER
  • Manager Drug & Alcohol Testing Program
  • Receive drug & alcohol test results
  • Remove employees from safety sensitive functions
  • Refer employees to the Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) and facilitate return to duty, if allowed
  • Coordinate physician referrals for “shy bladder” and “shy lung” situations
  • Report test results to agency and/or state and local authorities, if necessary
  • DER must be familiar with entire testing process
  • Responsible for compliance with 49 CFR Part 40 and Agency Regulations
  • Urine Collection Procedures
  • Breath Alcohol Testing procedures
  • Receive Breath Alcohol Results from BAT
  • Correction of flaws, fatal flaws, and problem tests
  • Determining Refusals to Test

Returning Employees To Work

In each of the DOT regulated agencies or modes of transportation, there must be a Designated Employer Representative or DER. The regulated modes listed below all require DOT drug and alcohol testing programs.

  • Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) – 49 CFR Part 382
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – 14 CFR Part 120
  • Federal Railroad Administration(FRA) – 49 CFR Part 219
  • Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – 49 CFR Part 655
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) – 49 CFR Part 199
  • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) – 46 CFR Parts 4 and 16

DERs are responsible to select service providers for their drug free work place programs. A Service Agent is any person or vendor used outside your company to help implement the DOT requirements for a drug/alcohol testing program. These service agents in the program include: Policy Consultant, Collection site, Urine Collector, BAT or STT, Lab, Trainer, MRO, SAP, and C/TPA.

More on the DER – The Person in Charge of the Drug and Alcohol Testing Program

The DER or primary contact person is the employer representative for the drug and alcohol testing program. It doesn’t matter the title of the person but what is important is that the primary contact person or the DER has the authority to manage the program, make decisions, answer questions and take care of problems. Today many non-DOT companies are starting also to use the term DER. We use the term DER as the primary contact person (DOT or Non-DOT) who has the authority to manage the drug and alcohol testing program, make decisions, answer questions and take care of problems.

For every client, the C/TPA should immediately request the employer to assign a Designated Employer Representative (DER). This simple step can save the C/TPA tremendous grief later on if there is confusion as to any issues of how the C/TPA services are being administered for that particular company. It is also important that the employees of a company have knowledge of who is in charge of drug and alcohol testing in the event they have questions. The DER name and contact phone number should be available to all employees subject to drug testing.

An employer cannot outsource the function of the DER. An exception to this is when the employer is an owner operator and the C/TPA assumes some of the DER responsibilities.

For expert assistance with your drug testing program and with DER training call today - (XXX) XXX-XXXX.