August 14th, 2018 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Don’t Fear an Employment Drug Test

When I started at Sterling Talent Solutions, I had to get a complete background check including a criminal record check, education and employment verifications, reference checks and a drug screening to be hired for the job. It was the first time I had to get a background check and I had a lot of questions. I found that a background check is not as simple as one would think. I wasn’t sure of the process, what information I had to provide, what forms I needed to fill out, how long it would take and if I took too long to provide info would it delay me getting hired for the job. Of all the parts of the background screen, my biggest worry was doing the employment drug test. I didn’t have anything to worry about with it, but the entire process stressed me out.

As we have mentioned in previous blog posts in our series, there are many types of employment background screening reports and it is important to understand what information is needed to make the screening process go as smoothly and quickly as possible. The first blog post in our candidate employment series, “What You Need for a Criminal Record Check”, shared what information needs to be provided to either a third-party background screening provider or an internal HR team to run a criminal record check. The second blog shared information about what could be required for an education verification check. The third blog post in the series shared what a candidate needed to provide for employment verification. In part four of the series, we shared how an employment credit check is not the same as having your credit report run for a loan or credit card.

What is a Employment Drug Test?

A pre-employment drug test is the most common type of drug testing conducted for a background check and should only be conducted after a conditional offer of employment has been made. While most employers are not required to drug test their employees, pre-employment urine testing is mandated among federally-regulated employers who employ individuals in safety-sensitive positions including truck, bus and taxi drivers, airplane pilots and railroad employees.

Information to Start a Background Check

It is important to be informed about the process and what information you need to provide for the background check. Remember to read the consent form carefully before you sign it. Providing the correct information at the time of consent will help to speed up the background check process. In order to get started with the background check, you will need to provide some personal information. Items that you will be asked for to complete a criminal record check include:

  • Full Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Known Aliases
  • Current and past addresses
  • Driver’s License Number

What Do I Need to Supply for a Drug Test?

A employment drug test is one of the many components of a background check. A urine test, which detects recent drug use, is the most commonly run screening method. The test identifies recent drug use, typically in the previous one to three days. According to Quest Diagnostics, one of the world’s largest clinical labs, the urine test is “suitable for all testing reasons – from pre-employment to random to post-accident – and can be performed for a wide range of illicit and prescription drugs. While a positive urine test does not necessarily mean that an individual was ‘under the influence’ at the time of the test, it has become the standard for evidence of ‘current use’ for the U.S. Department of Labor. Urine testing is also the only method allowed for federally mandated drug tests.”

A urine test can check for the following drugs: amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, marijuana, MDMA (ecstasy) and its metabolite, methadone, opiates, oxycodone, phencyclidine (PCP) and propoxyphene, synthetic cannabinoids (“K2/Spice”) and synthetic stimulants (“Bath Salts”).

For someone new to the drug screening process, I did not know the process of collecting the sample, but the laboratory assistant explained the entire process to me when I arrived at the lab. A urine drug testing requires a minimum of 30 mL of urine, which is collected in the privacy of a restroom. The collector pours the specimen into a bottle that is sealed with tamper-evident tape and handed to the lab technician where they complete the Custody and Control Form and then send it to the laboratory for testing.

Background Screening Regulations

The background screening industry is highly regulated by federal, state and local laws. At the federal level, background checks are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines. According to FCRA guidelines, employers must notify the candidate that they will be performing a background check. The notice will explain that the results of the background check will be used for hiring, promotion or retention. After explaining the intent of performing a background check, employers must receive consent (either on paper or online) from a job candidate to run a criminal record check and that the results will be used in making hiring decisions.

As you have seen described throughout the candidate screening tips blog post series, there are many aspects to a background screen from criminal record checks to employment verifications to credit checks to drug screening. Each company will require different checks for the positions that they need to fill. Understanding what information you need to be prepared for the background check will help the turnaround time and put you a step ahead of other candidates. For other questions about the process, check out FAQ at the Sterling Talent Solutions’ website.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.