"Employee education serves to raise awareness about substance abuse in the workplace and can facilitate a safe and effective drug testing program."
By Adam Hall
Note: This article is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. The reader retains full responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable laws relative to drug testing
The diversity of state drug testing laws is impressive but often intimidating. Having flexibility to tailor drug testing laws to fit their specific needs is a great benefit to any state. Yet, of all the states, municipalities, and territories in the United States that have voluntary, mandatory, general, or industry-specific laws, only 10 specifically mention employee education requirements.
Like supervisor training, employee education serves to raise awareness about substance abuse in the workplace and can facilitate a safe and effective drug testing program. The few states (AL, AR, GA, IA, KY, MS, MT, OH, TN, WY) that do require employee education programs primarily touch on three things: content, time, and renewal.
Content refers to what an employer’s education program must cover. A few states completely avoid regulating content in their state laws. In contrast, other states are more descriptive when outlining content requirements. For example, Tennessee requirements are very detailed in listing out mandatory minimums for employee education content. Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, and Ohio are states which share similar language when defining their education requirements. Some examples include:
- explanation of the disease model of addiction for drugs and alcohol
- effects and dangers of commonly abused substances
- company policies pertaining to substance abuse in the workplace and how to obtain treatment
Time requirements are typically 1-hour minimum. Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wyoming all require a minimum of one hour of training. Arkansas, Iowa, and Montana do not regulate how long training must last.
Time is closely related to renewal, as some states require the 1-hour minimum to be repeated when education is renewed, while others reduce the time requirement to 30 minutes.
- Alabama requires semi-annual renewal (1-hour minimum remains)
- Kentucky requires annual renewal (minimum drops to 30 minutes)
- Mississippi requires annual renewal (1-hour minimum remains)
- Ohio requires annual renewal (1-hour minimum remains)
- Wyoming requires annual renewal (1-hour minimum remains)
For the remaining states, education renewal is not a requirement in subsequent years. Generally, the requirements for training content are concise. This makes establishing an employee education program a relatively simple task, especially when compared to the myriad of regulations surrounding other aspects of drug testing programs, such as specimen collection or laboratory certification. Depending on the objectives of a company’s drug testing program, employee education is usually a wise decision even in states that do not require or regulate it.
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