Questions to Ask Before a Drug Test
Unless you have never touched an illicit substance, a drug test may be one of the most stressful experiences in your career. Although you may hesitate to ask questions or make specific requests, it is smart to know what your options are before you're faced with a test.
With the ready availability of inexpensive drug tests, they are becoming increasingly common in sports, in jobs, in medicine, and even in schools. There are also a number of drug testing facilities vying for drug testing revenue. When faced with a drug test you may be fearful of asking questions or making specific requests. It's important, however, that you understand your rights and the risks of a failed drug test.
Can I refuse a drug test?
In most cases you cannot be legally required to undergo a drug test (exceptions include drug testing as a stipulation of parole or drug testing after an accident). There may be consequences, like being disqualified for a job application, losing an existing job, or spending a night in jail. If you think it is likely that you will fail a drug test, it is worth asking whether you can refuse. Employers and law enforcement have a legal obligation to tell you the truth and, in most cases, they will be more than happy to tell you the consequences of refusing. We've also covered common consequences of failing a drug test here, so that you may weigh your options
Should I be worried about privacy?
Drug test results, by their nature, often contain very sensitive information. Even if you are not using illicit substances, drug tests may include information like what prescription medications you are taking or specific medical conditions. This can be very concerning when you consider that testing facilities like Quest Diagnositics billing partner AMCA was hacked, exposing sensitive information for over 11M patients and Labcorp has been hacked multiple times. You should definitely be concerned about your privacy and you should not hesitate to share these concerns with your employer. Many employers understand this reality and will work with you to ensure your test is submitted anonymously or that your social security number is not shared with the testing facility.
What other rights do I have?
You may also ask whether different types of testing is available. For example, if a urine drug test makes you feel uncomfortable, it's possible that a cheek swab or hair test may be acceptable alternatives. If you are not comfortable submitting to a test at work, you may be able to submit your sample at a testing facility (more common with remote employees). Knowing your testing options, you may be able to pick the type of test that is most favorable to your circumstances.
Finally, you may also have some flexibility over when testing occurs. This is usually the case for pre-employment drug screens and may even be an option if you are being tested after getting a job. Except for cases like job-site accidents, employers have an incentive to be as accommodating as possible.
Should I share concerns with my employer about failing a drug test?
Unless you have previously failed a drug test, it is probably a good idea not to express concerns about the possibility of failing a drug test directly. Instead, check your employee handbook's policy on drug testing and what happens if you fail a drug test. If you cannot find it, it is usually better to ask "where can I find the company policy on drug testing," than something like "what's the company policy if I fail a drug test?"
I didn't get a negative result back quickly, should I be worried?
Maybe. Most facilities can provide a negative result within 24 hours of receiving a sample. If the initial test is positive, labs then do a more extensive "confirmation" test to ensure the results are accurate. This second stage of testing can take up to 72 hours. While it doesn't guarantee your test will be positive, the odds are definitely higher. With the exception of a hair follicle test, if you haven't used illicit substances within a few weeks of the test, you will probably be okay. It may also be the case that your employer is slow in sharing the results. Whatever the case, you should probably abstain from drug use until you get the results of the test, just in case you have to take it again.
Hopefully this will help you be better prepared for the test and minimize the chances that you will get any unpleasant surprises. Preparing for a urine drug test? Contact us to learn more!