US Drug Test Centers Blog

Everything You Need to Know About Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing

Posted: Feb 20 2020

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By: Ashlee Arnold

If you're running a company, then you probably exert a good deal of effort to ensure a safe and healthy environment for everyone. Having a clear and comprehensive drug testing policy is an important step to achieve this. However, knowing how to identify substance misuse on the job is also critical, especially as soon as it begins and before it gets worse. That's why it's important to understand reasonable suspicion drug testing and how to implement it if you suspect drug or alcohol use in the workplace.

What is Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing?

Reasonable suspicion drug testing happens when an employer has evidence or reason to believe that an employee is impaired due to drug use. This might come from observations like rapid physical changes, erratic behavior, difficulty concentrating, and inability to complete tasks.

Often, these employees are advised not to return to work until their test results are received.

However, Cannabis at Work notes that "reasonable suspicion is not meant to prove the misuse of drugs or alcohol but to identify a potential safety risk." Employers shouldn’t act as experts or counselors, attempt to identify the substance involved, or try to diagnose the issue.

Rather, they should recognize and document signs of impairment to help objectively address the concern in the workplace and ensure everyone's safety and comfort.

What Kinds of Scenarios Might Count as Reasonable Suspicion?

According to the Society of Human Resource Management, an employee may exhibit intoxication in three ways: physical, behavioral, or psychological.

Some of the physical signs are bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils, slurring of words, lack of movement coordination, sweating or shivering, and an inability to sit still. Others include sleepiness or difficulty staying awake, poor appearance, and improper grooming.

Behavioral signs are excessive tardiness or absences, a decline in quality of work, being withdrawn or strangely secretive, unusual borrowing of money, and potentially stealing from workmates or employers.

Psychological indicators include rapid changes in personality or attitude, sudden mood changes, irritability or violent outbursts, and inappropriate laughing. Other signs are unexplained fear or paranoia and difficulty in focusing.

How Can Reasonable Suspicion Drug Testing Help Employers?

As an employer, you're responsible for maintaining a safe and healthy workplace. If you allow a suspected person to continue working, even with signs of impairment and drug use, you're putting other people and your business at great risk. You're also depriving that person of the opportunity to seek help and get better.

two women in a meetingWith reasonable suspicion drug testing, employers prevent incidences of fatal accidents, crime, and violence from occurring at the workplace. It also eliminates the possibility of being in a "hot seat" when you immediately implement responsible preventive measures toward the employee involved.

This testing helps you save substantial money and resources by reducing recruitment costs and the need to train new employees. Similarly, untoward incidents that happen at work entitle employee compensations. If such is found to be caused by drug use, the person might not receive any payment. Better yet, preventing accidents and injuries caused by intoxication limit worker's compensation and healthcare claims.

By identifying employees who have drug problems, you help decrease absenteeism, poor performance, theft cases, and employee turnovers. You're able to keep only those who are efficient and effective, thus improving employee morale, attendance, productivity, and performance.

Most importantly, recognizing substance use at work with this type of testing enables you to assist the employee in seeking the help and treatment that he or she needs. It also gives assurance to their family, knowing that your company is willing to help the worker recover from drug use and get better.

stressed man with head in hands

How Does it Work?

As a company, you must have a drug-free workplace policy to outline what's expected of employees, their rights, and your rights as an employer. It limits liabilities by specifying what will happen if employees are believed or found to be engaging in inappropriate behavior. It protects your business and assures your workers that they are or will be treated equally, should they be in such a scenario.

If an employee shows signs of intoxication, having a policy will help address the situation accordingly – especially for how to test, discipline, or fire if needed. Should you need to respond to potential drug use at work, the drug-free workplace policy, signed by employees upon being hired, will ensure you're protected under the law.

Again, it must be noted that drug tests shouldn't be done based on guesses, rumors, or a gut feeling. Otherwise, you can be accused of targeting people on purpose or failing to address the concern.

Reasonable suspicion means there's solid evidence of the employee's substance use or possession at work. It can also be a report of uncharacteristic behaviors from another staff member. When more than one person makes similar observations about a particular employee, it can be enough to warrant reasonable suspicion drug testing. These points should be well-documented and properly explained to the employee involved.

woman typing on computerTo effectively do this, you need a third-party company like US Drug Test Centers so that your measures are truly well-thought-out and unbiased.

How We Can Help

US Drug Test Centers can help establish a testing policy and screening program to ensure that your employees are free from potential dangers arising from accidents or injuries due to substance misuse in the workplace.

We assist in outlining who, what, where, when, and how testing will be done along with the consequences of any policy violation. We have online trainings to assist employers with the proper implementation of drug-free policies and the maintenance of a safe and healthy workplace.

We offer all types of employee drug testing services and train company managers to accurately detect and effectively handle reasonably suspicious situations in the workplace. With over 20,000 collection sites nationwide, you can conveniently contact USDTC to find the nearest location to have a drug test completed.

If you suspect an employee of using drugs at work or violating your drug-free workplace policy and would like to have them tested, contact US Drug Test Centers today or schedule an appointment online.

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