Do Employers Pay for Time for Pre-Employment Drug Tests? 

Sep 22, 2022

Drug screening is a crucial part of maintaining a safe work environment and protecting a business. No employer wants someone showing up to the job intoxicated, so many companies require a pre-employment drug test as part of the hiring process. Employers often extend conditional job offers to applicants contingent on the passing of a drug test.  Many positions also require routine drug screening. As an employer, you need to know when you are responsible for drug screening costs to avoid potential litigation.

Do employers compensate time for pre-employment drug tests?

Employers must pay employees for all hours worked as regulated under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which includes any activities unless the activity meets all of the following criteria simultaneously:

  • Attendance is outside normal working hours
  • Attendance is voluntary
  • The activity is not job-related
  • No other work is concurrently performed

When you require drug screening from current employees, you must compensate the employees for time traveling to and from the tests. Current employees must be compensated for their time as if they are on the clock while performing routine screening for their positions.

However, the FLSA only applies to employees and does not apply to applicants, volunteers, or independent contractors. Applicants are not employees so employers are not required to compensate for time or travel to take a drug test. 

Do applicants pay for pre-employment drug tests?

In some states, such as Florida, employers are required to pay for the cost of drug tests for both employees and applicants. In these states, applicants are only responsible for the cost of any tests they submit in addition to what the employer requires. 

In many places it is not explicitly prohibited to require applicants to pay for drug tests, doing so can risk appearances of discrimination. 

Best Practices for Pre-Employment Drug Screening

Protecting your business from intoxicated workers is critical. A thorough policy for drug testing procedures and a reliable resource for running the tests are assets to any business. With a proper plan in place for routine drug screening, you can minimize the risks of litigation or circumstances of discrimination. A good practice is to clearly state in the job description that employment offers are contingent on passing a drug test, so applicants are aware of this prior to starting the application process. Know what to do if drug results return negative so you stay within compliance with the FLSA and FCRA throughout the entire process. Working with a company who provides drug screening along with customized customer service to help you understand the rules and regulations of the process can help reduce risk to you and your company. Experts are always available to answer any of your questions and improve your employee screening process.

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