6 Tips for Creating a Drug Policy & Alcohol Policy

If you're launching an alcohol and drug testing program, it's imperative that you have a clear and comprehensive written policy. Here are six tips to guide you in its creation.

1. Discuss—out loud—the company's objectives.

Discussing the objectives with your team will better prepare you for when you sit down to draft the written policy. Don't develop the objectives in a vacuum, either. You must have buy-in and support from the C-suite and/or upper management, so discuss the objectives with them as well.

Remember, the easier it is for you to articulate the objectives, the easier it will be to translate them to the written word. Strive to draft a policy that's clear, comprehensive, and compliant, which leads us to our next point.

2. Get outside expertise.

For the majority of companies, the only way to truly create a compliant alcohol and drug testing program is by working with an outside vendor. This vendor should have legal expertise as well as experience in setting up successful programs.

If you choose to work with only an attorney, you might have the legal aspects covered, but not the minutia that goes into setting up a program or rolling out the policy to employees. Likewise, if you work with a smaller, local screening company, they probably won't have the legal expertise needed to ensure your policy and program remain compliant. (Learn more tips for choosing an employee screening vendor.)

3. Make the policy accessible to everyone.

This is two-fold. First, make the policy physically accessible. People should have easy access to it via the company intranet and/or breakrooms, for example.

Second, make it accessible from a comprehension standpoint. Avoid legalese. Draft it in a way that's easy to understand (and make it available in various languages, as needed, depending on your employee population).

4. Clearly state what's prohibited conduct and make it company-specific.

Boilerplate language exists, but you want a policy that's relevant to your organization. For example, let's say your company occupies two floors of an office building—the first and second floors. But the first floor also shares space with a bar and brewery. So your policy will need to address what people can and can't do when it comes to "happy hour" at the bar.

Further points to consider:

  • Depending on the size of the organization, you can get as granular or as high level as you want. But it's critical that your policy deals with real situations that your employees will likely encounter.
  • Make sure the policy is precise regarding coverage. This is especially important if you have a company that's operating in multiple states with multiple job categories or different job roles.
  • Be wary of so-called "across the board" policies. Your policy must be equitable for all employees across the board, yes. But in order to achieve this, your policy's details/specifics might differ depending on certain factors, such as job types and/or what states employees are working in.
  • Remember, compliance is incredibly complicated. For example, accepted specimen types (urine, oral fluid, hair) can differ, depending on the state. Acceptable consequences for positive tests can differ as well: some states more closely dictate whether you need to give a person a second chance. Not to mention you need a solid plan for dealing with the abuse of legal drugs, such as prescription medications.

5. Don't underestimate the effectiveness of a robust FAQ section. 

Anticipate and answer as many questions as possible. Consider all the different scenarios that could come up during the drug testing process and determine what your company's concrete policy decision will be for each scenario.

For example, what will the consequence be if the result of a random drug test is positive? In many companies, that might mean the employee loses their job. Some companies, however, might have a second chance policy where they'll send the employee for some type of rehab and the person gets a chance to return to work if they can prove they're clean again.

But the details of how that happens—who pays for the treatment, where treatment takes place—all of that should be spelled out in the policy so you're not figuring it out on the fly (and possibly making mistakes as a result).

6. Revisit the policy annually (at least).

Circumstances change. Not just laws, but even situations within your company (e.g., maybe your company acquires another entity and suddenly you have a manufacturing plant where people operate heavy machinery). Treat your alcohol and drug policy like the living, breathing document that it is and make sure you review and update it yearly (at the very least).

Again, the best thing an organization can do is seek expert help from a reputable third party.
At Good Egg, we have legal expertise and experience in launching effective programs across various industries. Get in touch today and let's chat about your company's needs.
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Scott Mogensen

Posted by Scott Mogensen

Scott Mogensen manages the Drug and Alcohol testing program. He has 11 years of experience in drug and alcohol testing and is an expert in DOT drug & alcohol compliance issues. As a Certified Substance Abuse Program Administrator (C-SAPA), he holds the highest credentials available for a program administrator.

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