May 31st, 2024 | Sterling

How Can Your Employment Drug Test Go Smoothly?

Often, before new hires can start Day One of their new jobs, their employer 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 employment drug testing. Naturally, if you’re being asked to take a drug test yourself, you might have lots of questions. A background check may appear to be simple at first, but in fact there are a few nuances to the process.

background check and drug screening are two of the most popular methods employers
use to see if an individual is a good fit for their company. Because you’d like to get started at your new job as soon as you can, you probably want to know how to streamline the hiring

As a 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 to expect, 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.

Click here for top Drug Testing FAQs

Do Background Checks Include Drug Tests?

Employers can decide what goes into an employment background check. It’s important for them to have a formal process so that every candidate is treated fairly. Most background checks include employment verifications, drug screening, criminal record checks, 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 usually administered following a conditional offer of employment. While most employers are not required to perform employee drug tests, pre-employment urine drug testing is mandated among federally-regulated employers who employ workers in safety-sensitive positions. This includes truck drivers, bus drivers, airplane pilots, and railroad workers covered by federal drug testing requirements.

As a result, whether you need to take an employment drug test depends on your prospective employer, your industry, and the job role you’re seeking to fill.

What Information Do You Need for Your Background Check?

First, read the consent form for the background check carefully before signing it. Providing accurate information to the employer will help expedite the background check process.

Below are the items you’ll need to provide for a typical employment background check: 

  • Legal Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Date of Birth (DOB)
  • Driver’s License Number 

What Do You Need to Supply for a Drug Test?

The employment drug test is often an important component of a background check. Many employers administer a urine screening, which detects recent drug use which has occurred approximately one to three days before the test. According to Quest Diagnostics, one of the world’s largest clinical labs, employers use drug testing to reduce job accidents and absenteeism, and increase productivity.  For employers, “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.”

If your role is federally regulated, your urine drug test will include amphetamines, methamphetamines, MDMA (ecstasy) and MDA, cocaine, marijuana, phencyclidine (PCP), and commonly abused opiates. For roles that are not federally regulated, employers often test the same basic group of drugs included in the federal test, but they may choose to vary the selection of drugs to also include: barbiturates, benzodiazepines, methadone, 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).

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 and education verifications, 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 you to reduce possible delays, which could also help put you one step ahead of other candidates.

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

Are you an employer who wants to learn more about our drug testing solutions? Contact us now.

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.