They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. A few months ago, businesses in Nevada didn’t know what to believe.
It seemed as though the state was about to ban any employer from drug testing their employees.
The headlines from June 12th 2019 were everywhere. CNN had Nevada bans employers from refusing to hire those who fail marijuana tests, while CBS news went with Nevada bans rejecting job applicants over marijuana use.
Forbes had Nevada Will Ban Pre-Employment Marijuana Testing On January 1, 2020, while (everyone’s favorite news network) Fox News proclaimed Nevada lawmakers prohibit employers from denying applicants who fail marijuana drug screenings.
What do I say to that? I say FAKE NEWS.
As an employer in Nevada, if you are to believe these headlines you may feel like throwing up your hands in despair and wonder what on earth you can do.
The answer is plenty, and you should to promote a safe working environment for your employees and customers.
What The Law Actually Says On Workplace Drug Testing Procedures
First let’s take a look at what the law actually says:
2.The provisions of subsection 1 do not apply if the prospective employee is applying for a position:
(a) As a firefighter, as defined in NRS 450B.071;
(b) As an emergency medical technician, as defined in NRS 450B.065;
(c) That requires an employee to operate a motor vehicle and for which federal or state law requires the employee to submit to screening tests; or
(d) That, in the determination of the employer, could adversely affect the safety of others.
3. If an employer requires an employee to submit to a screening test within the first 30 days of employment, the employee shall have the right to submit to an additional screening test, at his or her own expense, to rebut the results of the initial screening test. The employer shall accept and give appropriate consideration to the results of such a screening test.
4.The provisions of this section do not apply:
(a) To the extent that they are inconsistent or otherwise in conflict with the provisions of an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement.
(b) To the extent that they are inconsistent or otherwise in conflict with the provisions of federal law.
(c) To a position of employment funded by a federal grant.
In other words, the new law in no way seeks to ban bans pre-employment marijuana testing.
What the new legislation actually states is that it is unlawful for any employer in Nevada to either fail, or refuse to hire, a prospective employee because the prospective employee submitted to a screening test and the results of the screening test indicate the presence of marijuana.
That IS NOT a ban on workplace drug testing.
Why Pre-Employment Drug Testing Is So Important
Why is Pre-employment drug testing so important? Take a look at the statistics:
- According to the National Safety Council, employees who abuse prescription drugs are two to five times more likely to take unexcused absences, be late for work, be injured or violent at work, file workers’ compensation claims, and quit or be fired within one year of employment.
- More than 74% of all current illegal drug users are employed and cause up to 40% of industrial fatalities in the US according to the National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance (NDWA).
- 50% of workplace accidents and up to 40% of employee theft is caused by drug abuse according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Nevada Employers (Still) Need A Drug Testing Policy
The law clearly allows an employer to test and – in the case of safety sensitive positions, federally required testing positions (I.E. 49 CFR part 40 under the Department of Transportation regulations) and positions that are funded by a federal grant – to make a hiring decision based on the results of that pre-employment test.
The law also clearly allows employers to test ALL employees in the case of reasonable suspicion. It is never OK for an employee to come to work under the influence.
Nevada employers can work with the new law and still promote a safe work environment. Employers should strongly consider putting the following in place to protect themselves, their customers, and all of their employees.
- A professionally-completed policy for workplace drug testing. The policy should clearly state the company’s position on drug testing, including the reason for testing and possible consequences in the case of a positive test result.
- Supervisor training. This is critical for any successful employment drug testing program. A business needs to annually train their supervisors on how to spot the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol use in the workplace. Empower your supervisors, they know your employees the best. Help them to keep the workplace a safe environment for all.
- Employee Education. Educating your employees about your policy is very important, but over time, employers that educate their employees on the harms of drug use and alcohol misuse lends to better choices.
- Drug and Alcohol Testing. A successful program is a combination of pre-employment testing (YES you can still do that), random testing, reasonable suspicion testing, post-accident testing on a regular basis.
- EAP/SAP referrals. A program including pre-employment testing seeks to prioritize about workplace safety for all. It’s not simply about punishing offenders. Employers can offer resources for getting help to those that ask for it. Resources can include addiction hotlines, info on their Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or health insurance if available, access to a list of Substance Abuse Professionals (SAP), etc. The company has the option to pay or not pay but by offering options towards recovery, one builds trust amongst their workforce.
The headlines may look scary. But Nevada employers and HR professionals needn’t be afraid. You still have the right to be able to use pre-employment drug testing as part of your talent acquisition strategy.
Dump The Fake News – Find Out The Truth. Contact IES
Confused around the misinformation about workplace drug testing? Get in touch with one of our expert consultants. We’d guide you through the maze of legislation and compliance issues and advise on how best to keep your business safe – and legal – for everyone.