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If your business has a drug-free workplace policy (and it should), it’s important that company leaders are open and honest with employees about the plan. Not only will this help them understand what is required of them, but it will help engender trust among team members and company management.

When you raise this topic with employees, here are a few thoughts you might want to share:

Drug tests help improve workplace safety. Drug tests needn’t be scary events; they are just simple tests to ensure that employees aren’t under the influence of something that could lead to a workplace accident. Drug tests help protect everyone at work.

You also could share with your employees that even though marijuana use is legal in the state of Washington, many employers still test for it, as being under the influence of marijuana at work — like with alcohol — can present a safety danger.

Here, it’s important to establish that running a drug-free workplace requires random drug testing. Be up front and honest about your company policies, and employees will respect you for it — and they won’t be surprised or offended when their turn comes up for a test.

Drug tests often are required. Many industries are under specific sets of rules that require drug testing for employees. Any business governed by the federal Department of Transportation, for example, is required to conduct regular drug testing of employees (including for marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level).

Explain that receiving federal grants or contracts means abiding by federal rules, which can include mandatory drug testing.

A few additional tips:

  • When you extend a job offer to new employees, have them read and sign the workplace drug policy and explain to them your testing plan. Make sure that information is up front.
  • During the hiring process, be careful about what questions you ask regarding personal history. For example, you can’t ask about a history of alcoholism, which is a disability — though you can ask about current use of illegal drugs.
  • Ensure that employees know that ongoing drug tests are conducted on random employees only, unless there is reason for suspicion. That can help specific team members from feeling singled out by the drug-testing program.
  • Keep in mind that not all workplace issues are related to alcohol or drug use, and good workplace communication can help you avoid tricky situations. Still, it is good to be safe. If you suspect a team member might be using, you might say something like this: “We’ve been noticing some issues with your work performance of late. You’re an important member of this team, and we want to do everything we can to help you. Let’s rule out drugs as a possibility so we can move forward.”

If you have any other questions, or if you want help crafting a workplace drug policy, contact our office here in Whatcom County.

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