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What should be included in our drug-free workplace policy?


We’re updating our drug-free workplace policy this year. While we don’t just want the bare minimum, we also don’t want a document that’s 100 pages. How do we know when we have “enough” in our policy?


Your drug-free workplace policy – or any workplace policy – needs to be more than just pages in a binder on a shelf. You want it to be legally sound and operational. In short, it needs to both protect and guide your company and leadership team, while informing employees of your performance expectations.

Before determining if your drug-free workplace policy is sufficient, take a step back and articulate the purpose of this particular document.  Ask yourself and your leadership team, what’s the goal of this policy? Consider these options:

  • Do you want to prevent certain behaviors?
  • Is minimizing risk important?
  • Can you qualify for a premium rebate (i.e., the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s [BWC] Drug-Free Safety Program)?
  • Do you want to reduce or eliminate subjective decision-making?
  • Are there any drug-free workplace mandates imposed on you by an outside authority like contractors/job owners, DOT, OSHA, BWC?

You likely said “yes” to most, if not all, of these goals. As such, there are likely criteria from each you want included in your document. First and foremost, it’s important that you contact any authorities you are subject to for their specific policy requirements. And, of course, legal counsel should be consulted to review all related laws and regulations in all states where you conduct business – not just the ones where you have a physical office.

Once you’ve identified these mandates and requirements, there are operations issues you’ll want to be sure are addressed:

  • Who is covered by the policy?
  • In what circumstances will employees be tested (e.g., pre-employment, random, post-accident) and what methods will be tested (e.g., urine, breath, blood)?
  • What specific drugs will be included in a test?
  • How are key terms like “on the job,” “under the influence” and “accident” defined?
  • What rules are employees expected to follow and what corrective action will be taken if there’s a violation?
  • What assistance options are available for employees (and their family members) who want or need help?
  • What forms do you want employees to sign, indicating acknowledgment and understanding, and what other operational tools might be helpful (e.g., a reasonable suspicion checklist and flow)?

Policy development is quite an undertaking and highly technical. You can imagine there are a lot of details involved in each of the bullet points above. What’s enough for your organization will be different than another. Reach out to your drug-free workplace expert and/or attorney for guidance on creating and updating your policy documents. It’s better to spend the time and money upfront to do it right, then to figure out there’s a gap when a problem arises.

Reach out to the Working Partners® team if you’re interested in exploring and clarifying your drug-free workplace policy and program needs.