Drug-Testing Checklist

By Rita Ziedner Nov 1, 2010

November Cover

Controversy over drug testing remains. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that employers follow these rules to ensure fairness and avoid lawsuits.


  • Identify and comply with relevant federal or state laws.
  • If applicable, talk with union officials.
  • Identify and contact a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-certified laboratory and a medical review officer.
  • Develop a system to protect the confidentiality of employee drug-testing records.
  • Designate a person at your workplace who will receive the test results from the lab and keep them confidential.
  • Notify employees 30 to 60 days before the drug-testing program goes into effect.
  • Abide by any policies communicated to employees.


  • Enforce a workplace policy inconsistently. An inconsistent policy is unfair and makes an employer a target for litigation.
  • Publicize drug-test results. Disseminate employee or job applicant test results only to those who need to know.
  • Take action if only an initial positive drug-test result is available. A confirmatory test must always be conducted on specimens that had initial positive drug-test results.
  • Use unaccredited laboratories.
  • Address drug abuse without addressing alcohol abuse. Make the dangers of abusing alcohol part of the drug abuse education program you offer employees.
  • Confront a suspected drug user alone. Confronting a person under the influence or engaged in illegal behavior could be physically dangerous. In the event of legal challenge, it helps to have a witness.
  • Allow impaired employees to drive home. Have a supervisor drive them.

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