Reasonable suspicion drug testing, also known as probable-cause or for-cause testing, is a post-employment drug test that is administered when supervisors have evidence-based reasons to believe that an employee may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on the job.
Employers who have objective documentation that suggests an employee is in violation of company policy for drug use or alcohol abuse have the right to test that employee.
Implementing a company policy regarding reasonable suspicion can be highly beneficial as it deters many employees from abusing alcohol and drugs and allows you to take action if they do. But what kind of evidence do supervisors need to have reason to perform this test? And how can they institute a reasonable suspicion policy?
Here are some of the main symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse, ways you can implement a reasonable suspicion drug test policy in your workplace, and resources you can use to perform these drug tests:
Signs and Symptoms of Drug or Alcohol Abuse
There are several indicators that point to drug or alcohol abuse that you can observe in your employees if you’re suspicious. Look for any of the following signs or symptoms in employees you may suspect are under the influence:
- Erratic or unusual behavior
- Sweating, shaking, or shivering
- Slurred speech
- Inability to perform routine tasks
- Difficulty staying awake
- Inability to sit still
- Unstable walking
- Patterns of tardiness
- Financial issues
- Sudden or severe mood swings
These warning signs often warrant reasonable suspicion drug testing if at least two supervisors observe significant symptoms in an employee. You’ll need to document your observations so you can explain them to the employee when you send them in for testing.
How to Implement a Reasonable Suspicion Drug Test Policy
There are a few steps you can take to ensure your workplace stays drug-free and that you have a system for conducting reasonable suspicion drug tests. As you make observations of employees you suspect are under the influence, you can have a clear protocol to follow for conducting a drug screening.
1. Institute Your Company Police
First, you’ll need to establish a company policy for handling reasonable suspicion. Decide what constitutes reasonable suspicion, who will enforce the policy, and details such as how and where employees will be tested. Determine what employees will do while they await results and what decisions your company will make regarding the employee if the drug test comes back positive.
2. Train Your HR Representatives and Management
Your HR team, managers, supervisors, and the like should be trained on how to identify drug or alcohol abuse symptoms. They should know what steps to take if they believe an employee is under the influence.
You may even decide to train all personnel on how to recognize symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse so that other employees can report suspicious behavior to HR. Additionally, training your whole staff can create awareness around the policy and further prevent employees from coming to work under the influence.
3. Establish protocol for documentation and testing
Consider creating a formal document that provides a symptom checklist and an area for observers to make notes. This way, all observations are recorded and can be used to clearly show an employee why they are being sent in for drug testing.
Determine how you will test your employee, whether it’s on-site or elsewhere. You should arrange a time and date and, if necessary, transportation for the employee being tested. Make sure to test the employee as soon as possible.