Alcohol and drug use by employees and on company property can spell trouble for your business. Many employers use testing to limit the negative impact illegal drugs and alcohol can have on their business and to ensure the safety of their employees and clients.

Before you wade into the testing waters, there is a lot to consider when it comes to testing requirements and consent. This article covers the when, why, and how of drug test consent forms.

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What Is a Drug Test Consent Form?

A drug test consent form is the document you must present to an employee or prospective employee in advance to test for illegal drugs and alcohol. When an individual signs the form, it allows a healthcare worker to obtain a sample from them and a lab to share those results with you. Gaining consent protects you against legal action and criminal charges.

There are several different kinds of drug testing situations, but you can create a form or two that works for most situations. These are the most common scenarios for drug testing:

  • Pre-employment drug screening
  • Regularly scheduled drug tests for employees
  • One-time incident drug testing
  • Random drug test for employees

Consenting to a drug test can feel awkward and invasive, even with the best intentions. When getting employee consent and requesting drug testing, use discretion and consistent practices to improve employee and applicant confidence.

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Should You Have New Hires Sign a Drug Test Consent Form?

Many employers make a pre-employment drug screening part of their hiring process. It’s still important to consider the effectiveness and necessity of pre-screening candidates for your business. You can pre-screen candidates for illegal drugs and alcohol, but you should wait until a job offer has been made and accepted.

Federal, state, local, or licensing mandates may require that you regularly or randomly test your employees. If this is the case, you’ll want to get signed consent forms at the beginning of employment to make the process easier for everyone.

When to Use Them

The easy answer as to when to use a drug test consent form is to use one any time you intend to screen employees or prospective employees for drugs or alcohol. To help you understand better which scenarios call for a screening, consider these situations:

  • Pre-employment screening of a candidate. You can pre-screen candidates for drug use, but it’s best to wait until a job offer is made and accepted. It’s also best to indicate in advance, either on your website, application, or in the interview process, that all offers are contingent on passing a drug test.
  • Screening after a workplace complaint. If an employee shows signs of slurred speech, erratic behavior, or anything else that might signal they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should consider a drug test. If you do not already have a standing consent form, get the employee’s signed consent to test for drugs or alcohol.
  • Screening after a workplace accident. When a workplace incident occurs, and employee conduct is under scrutiny, it may warrant getting a drug test consent form to determine if drugs or alcohol played a factor in the incident.

When Not to Use Them

You should not get a signed drug test consent form if you have no immediate need to screen the individual. Despite their prevalence in the workplace, a consent form of this nature creates awkwardness and an air of distrust that is best to avoid whenever possible.

  • Pre-employment screening of an applicant. Even though it’s permissible to screen your new hires before they begin work, you should not drug test applicants in the interview process. A drug test consent form should not be a part of your employment application.
  • Screening select employees or prospective employees. You should not use a drug test consent form for certain employees or candidates for a position. A selective screening process puts certain people at an unnecessary disadvantage and, in some cases, presents an illegal form of discrimination.
  • “Just in case.” You may think it’s best to have a drug test consent form on file for all employees “just in case,” but the precaution is not worth the administrative effort or feelings of distrust it creates. Present your employees with a consent form only when necessary.

How to Write a Drug Test Consent Form

Knowing when you plan to conduct drug and alcohol testing for employees is the first step to creating an effective consent form. There are four main elements to a drug test consent form.

1. Authorization

In the first section of the drug test consent form, your employee must authorize the laboratory or healthcare worker to take a specimen (hair, urine, blood, etc.) for testing purposes.

2. Disclosure

Secondly, the employee must agree to allow the laboratory to disclose the results of the drug and alcohol test to you as the current or prospective employer and any government entity involved.

3. Release

Next, the consent form should require the employee to release your company and the laboratory from any legal action following the results of the drug test.

4. Signature

Finally, the drug test consent form must have a signature line for the employee to sign and date the form acknowledging their voluntary consent clearly. An unsigned form is useless.

Drug Test Consent Form Template

A drug test consent form does not have to be lengthy or unnecessarily complicated. With the correct elements and language, you can easily keep the document to one page.

Below is a template you can adjust for your company’s use.

Pre-Employment First Paragraph

I __________(candidate name) hereby consent to urinalysis and/or other illegal drug and alcohol tests as determined by _____________________(company name) in the selection process of applicants for employment.

Existing Employee First Paragraph

I __________(employee name) hereby consent to urinalysis and/or other illegal drug and alcohol tests as determined by _____________________(company name) for regular, random or reasonable suspicion screening.

_________________(name of physician/clinic/laboratory) may collect these specimens for these tests and may test them or forward them to a testing laboratory designated by the company for analysis.

I further agree to and authorize the release of the results of these tests to the Company.

I further agree to hold harmless the Company and its agents (including the above-named physician or clinic) from any liability arising in whole or part out of the collection of specimens, testing, and use of the information from said testing in connection with the Company’s consideration of my employment application.

I have carefully read and understood the above and agree to its contents. I acknowledge that my signing of this document is voluntary and that I was not coerced into signing by anyone.

Printed Name: ___________________

Date: __________

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Drug Test Consent Forms

No, you cannot conduct a drug test on employees without their consent. A healthcare worker cannot perform the drug test, and the lab cannot send you the test results without consent.
Employees and applicants have the right to refuse a drug test or pre-employment drug screening. However, you also have the right to terminate employment or resend an offer to an applicant for refusing to submit to a drug test.

Amanda has spent over 10 years building a career in Human Resources in the non-profit sector. Her roles have included HR assistant, recruitment and onboarding coordinator, and manager of learning and professional development. Although Amanda enjoys her time as an HR consultant now, she prefers to use her experience to strengthen the field through the education and development of its practitioners.

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