May 25th, 2022 | Sterling

How Can Your Employment Drug Test Go Smoothly?

Do background checks include drug tests

Before many new hires can begin their positions, their company first requires a comprehensive background check. This can involve many different steps including a criminal record check, identity verification, reference checks, education and employment verification, and drug testing. Naturally, if you’re being asked to take a drug test yourself, you may have a lot of questions. A background check may appear to be simple at first, but in fact there are a few nuances to the process.

A background check and drug screening are two of the most popular methods that employers
use to see if an individual is a good fit for their company. Because there are many different
employment background screening reports, you’ll need to know how to streamline the hiring
process. One of the most crucial screening parts involves investigating criminal history. Our blog post, Fair Chance Hiring and Criminal Background Checks, provides a high-level overview of “Ban the Box” and “Fair Chance” laws pertaining to background screening.

As our previous blog post, How Long Does a Background Check Take? explains, there are multiple components to the background screening process, and the drug test often causes the most concern among candidates. You might be a little nervous or unsure of exactly what information you need to provide, or how long the process might take. Let’s cover what you need to know beforehand to help make sure your employment drug test goes as smoothly as possible.

Do background checks include drug tests?

Employers can decide what goes into an employment background test, but it’s important to have a formal process so that every candidate is treated fairly. Most background checks include education, drug screening, credit check, criminal records, and motor vehicle records.

Will You Need to Take an Employment Drug Test?

A pre-employment drug test is a common type of screening used as part of a standard background check. It’s only administered following a conditional offer of employment. While most employers are not required to drug test their employees, pre-employment urine testing is mandated among federally-regulated employers who employ workers in safety-sensitive positions. These include truck drivers, bus drivers, airplane pilots, and railroad workers. As a result, whether or not you need to take an employment drug test depends on the industry and job role you’re seeking to fill.

What Information Do You Need for Your Background Check?

First, it’s crucial to educate yourself on the background check process. A little preparation should help you to understand exactly what you’ll need to complete the process. First, read the consent form for the background check carefully before signing it. Provide accurate information to the employer so you can expedite the background check process. Below are the items you’ll need to provide during a criminal record check: 

  • Full Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of Birth (DOB)
  • Known Aliases
  • Current and Past Addresses
  • Driver’s License Number 

What Do I Need to Supply for a Drug Test?

The employment drug test is an important component of a background check. Many employers administer a urine screening, which detects recent drug use that has occurred approximately one to three days before. According to Quest Diagnostics, one of the world’s largest clinical labs, “Drug testing aims to filter drug users from the workplace as well as to deter drug use on the job. Urine testing is the most common screening method and detects recent use, typically in the previous one to three days. It 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.”

A urine test screens 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”).

What Are My Rights During a Background Check?

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). Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has guidelines (not laws) for employers concerning background checks. According to the FCRA, employers must notify you (the candidate) that they’re performing a background check. The notice you’ll receive explains that the background screening results will be used for hiring, promotion, or retention. After disclosing the intent of the background check, employers must receive your consent (either on paper or online) before they can run your background check.

As you can see, there are many elements to a background screening, including criminal record checks, employment verifications, credit checks, and the drug test itself. Each company requires unique checks for its open positions. Again, before the day of your drug test, it’s helpful to understand all the information you need to provide in advance. Being better-prepared for your background check can help reduce possible delays, which could help put you one step ahead of other candidates.

Learn more about the background check process and the drug testing component in the FAQ section of our candidate site.

This blog post is part of a Compliance blog series, diving into compliance trends, best practices, and updates.

Sterling is not a law firm. 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.