If your business is considering a drug and alcohol program policy there is a lot to think about before moving forward with it. Several states have employment laws concerning the implementation of such programs. On the other hand, if you have federal contracts you will be subject to rules such as the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988. It would be nice to think that you could just demand that employees take random drug and/or alcohol tests at any time but this could be a violation of their rights.
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Once you have decided to move forward with a drug and alcohol program you will need to find an employee handbook templates software that offers a number of pre-written policies that comply with your specific state employment laws. The way to do this is to check with your state’s Department of Labor. If you are considering a federal contract you should be able to pull down information via the internet, but the Request for Bid that the federal government puts out should inform you of what is required.
If you allow for a salesperson to indulge in an alcoholic beverage during a sales call lunch!
Terminology is especially critical when presenting a drug and alcohol program policy within your employee handbook it needs to be very clear and understandable. This type of policy can get you a free ticket to the courtroom. As an example, if you violate someone’s rights or your policy allows for alcoholic beverages at company sponsored events. Or if you allow for a salesperson to indulge in an alcoholic beverage during a sales call lunch! That complicates your policy and the wording within your employee handbook.
If you have a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol program policy does it mean that no matter what the level of intoxication is the employee is subject to discipline or possible termination. Most states allow someone to have a certain level of alcohol in their system before it is considered illegal to drive. What if you company has heavy or dangerous equipment to operate? Do you want any level of intoxication? What does the state and federal law say about someone who may drive other employees? Trust me there are many regulations of this so make sure based on your situation you follow those very closely or you will be subject to legal action if something goes wrong, i.e., a tragic accident.
Can you test them if you suspect that they are acting unsafely?
Let’s talk about whether you can or can’t include legal medications within your drug and alcohol program policy. Will that change if they operate dangerous or heavy equipment? If they have an accident are you permitted to test them for drugs or alcohol? Can you test them if you suspect that they are acting unsafely? Again, the state and federal laws will dictate the answers to these questions. Once you know your position the wording within your employee handbook will have to be extremely clear and precise. Either use a very reputable employee handbook templates software or an employment attorney that knows this law very well.
How about your right to search an employee’s company provided locker or work environment such as their desk! All this needs to be included in your employee handbook. Although it seems very clear that if it is company property you have a right to search it, I still encourage you to check with your specific state to make sure. You may want to limit what types of personal belongings employees can bring into the workplace so that it will be easier to reduce the chances of it happening.
In the event that they are intoxicated will the workers’ compensation insurance…
If someone has a workplace accident do you want to be able to test the individual for drugs or alcohol as part of your drug and alcohol program policy. In the event that they are intoxicated will the workers’ compensation insurance be no longer valid to cover this employee. This is critical to include in your employee handbook and should be something that is covered in detail at the time of hire and periodically thereafter! Again, check with your state. As an example, the Department of Transportation will have something to say about this if the employee is driving certain over the road vehicles.
We could carry on this article for a while longer but I hope that you understand that this particular issue, a drug and alcohol program policy, is a sensitive one. On one hand you are responsible for insuring that the workplace is safe and on the other hand you can’t violate someone’s privacy. It is a delicate balance and great thought must be put into it before moving forward with one. Whatever the level of action you wish to participate with this type of policy include it in your employee handbook.
Thank you and may God bless you!