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Drug Free Workplace Blog

The Drug-Free Workplace Adviser assists users to build tailored drug-free workplace policies and provides guidance on how to develop comprehensive drug-free workplace programs. It also provides information about coverage and requirements of the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988. This Advisor was developed by the U.S. Department of Labor for the Drug-Free Workplace Policy Builder.

The Department of Labor (DOL) developed the elaws Advisers to help employees and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under numerous Federal employment laws. Each Adviser includes links to more detailed information that may be useful to the user, such as links to regulatory text, publications and organizations.

Program Planning and Philosophy

An organization’s philosophy concerning alcohol and drugs sets the tone for its drug-free workplace policy and program. Some organizations focus on detection, apprehension and discharge and apply a strong law enforcement model that treats employees who use drugs as criminals. Other organizations focus on performance and emphasize deterrence and assistance, because they view alcohol and drug use as causing impairment of otherwise capable employees. The most effective drug-free workplace programs strike a balance between these two philosophies. They send a strong clear message and, at the same time, encourage employees to seek assistance if they are struggling with alcohol or drug problems.

The following are some philosophies and practices that can undermine the effectiveness of drug-free workplace programs:

  • Focusing only on illicit drug use and failing to include alcohol—the number one drug of abuse in our society
  • Accepting drug use and alcohol abuse as part of modern life and a cost of doing business
  • Over reliance on drug testing
  • Focusing on termination of users rather than rehabilitation
  • Reluctance of supervisors to confront employees on the basis of poor performance
  • Reinforcing an individual’s denial regarding the impact of his or her alcohol and drug use
  • Restricting benefits and/or access to treatment of alcoholism and addiction
  • Allowing insurers to restrict access to treatment programs

The characteristic common to all effective drug-free workplace programs is balance. A successful drug-free workplace program must strike a delicate balance between a number of sometimes competing elements, including:

  • The rights of employees and the rights of employers
  • The need to know and rights to privacy
  • Detection and rehabilitation
  • Respect for employees and the safety of all

Developing an effective program that strikes the right balance can be challenging. To help, organizations are strongly encouraged to:

Who is allowed access to the results of a drug test?

The result of a drug test may be considered personal health information. Consequently, there may be restrictions on how and whether such information (as well as other information related to an employee’s history of alcohol or drug use) can be shared with others. This is why employees who undergo a drug test generally must sign a release (usually at the time of the test) in order for their employer to receive the results. For more information about issues related to the release of health information, contact DHHS. This agency administers the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which dictates under what circumstances and to whom health information may be released. More information about this issue can be found on Office of Civil Rights HIPAA Web page.

source United States Department of Labor