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Drug and alcohol testing in Kentucky employment law

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2021 | Uncategorized |

It’s no secret that drug and alcohol usage in the workplace is problematic. It can negatively affect the performance of the individual using them, but also the overall performance of those they work with. Mistakes are made, requiring time, effort and money to fix. And in the worst case, those mistakes can be serious, leading to injuries for the person using drugs or alcohol or for other workers around them.

Kentucky drug-free workplace

Kentucky allows businesses to adopt a drug-free workplace program, as defined by Kentucky Administrative Regulation 803 KAR 25:280. Doing so provides the employer with certain benefits, such as reduced premiums on workers’ compensation insurance. If they adopt such a program, the statute regulates when and why the employer can test employees for drugs or alcohol.

When can testing occur?

Controlled substances can be tested for by collecting urine samples, while alcohol is tested with a breath test. Both can be done at the initial hiring phase of a new employee, but only alongside a conditional offer of employment. So, not all applicants, but only those the company is prepared to hire should their tests come back negative.

Both drugs and alcohol can also be tested if there is a reasonable suspicion that the prohibited substance has been used. If an accident has occurred at the workplace, and someone suffers an injury that must be treated off-site, testing is permitted. Reasonable suspicion and workplace accidents are independent reasons for testing but they may sometimes happen at the same time.

Employers are permitted to conduct random screens for drug use only, not alcohol. The testing process has to be truly random. The statute demands that the randomness of the testing must be statistically valid and the testing itself must be unannounced.