Drug Testing – Time is of the Essence.

When employers conduct drug testing as part of the employment screening check, it is vital that they maintain reasonable control of the entire process. If an employer conducts lab-based drug testing, they must provide a Chain of Custody Form (CCF) to the applicant. The applicant will then proceed to the designated collection site to submit his or her specimen. The employer must maintain reasonable control over the applicant to ensure they are submitting their specimen in a timely manner. Best practices recommend providing a 24 – 48 hour window for the applicant to complete the test. This will ensure timely delivery of the results and allow the employer to make an employment decision expeditiously.

Some employers; however, allow the applicant upwards of two weeks to complete the test. There are a couple of pitfalls that could arise when this happens:

  1. This will delay completion of the entire report, which may cause a financial loss to the organization.
  2. The extended time may allow for the applicant to “run the clock” and attempt to flush out their system with a multitude of adulteration products (i.e. herbal supplements, increased water intake, and/or shampoo agents for hair follicle testing).

What should employers do to combat this issue?

  1. Revise their drug screening policy to reflect a reasonable time to complete the drug test (24-48 hours)
  2. Work with their background screening vendor to set up an electronic Chain of Custody Form to maintain a “paper trail” throughout the process
  3. Conduct on-site testing by collecting the specimen at their work location to receive instant results

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