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Things Your Dental, Optometry or Medical Practice Should Consider When Creating a Drug-free Workplace

Many dental, optometry and medical practices want a policy that communicates that they have a drug-free workplace. This is necessary for practices due to countless reasons, including the safety of employees and patients, the protection of critical equipment, and a slew of legal and moral reasons. Your practice is entitled to create policies that require such a workplace and OSHA also requires that employers maintain a workplace that is safe from known hazards.

However, requirements for drug testing policies can get more complicated, as different states and localities have various laws that govern what is acceptable and what isn’t.

As such, you may need outside assistance in creating a drug-free workplace that meets your needs, but also respects the legal rights of your team members. At HR for Health, we’re here to help, and we have team members with years of experience in this field. We know what it takes to create such a policy, and we also understand the importance of proper notification and documentation to ensure that you are keeping track of all actions. 

What Can I Require?

There is no question about it: You can require that your employees do not engage in any activities during work hours and create statements - including escalating or immediate punishments - that will impose a level of disciplinary action for violating any employee policies in a drug-free workplace. 

This means you can unquestionably state that any employee found working under the influence of an illegal substance can be punished in a legally acceptable way - including termination.

Things Your Dental, Optometry or Medical Practice Should Consider When Creating a Drug-free WorkplaceHowever, any policies that require a drug-free workplace should be clearly stated. Anyone who works for you should not be able to use ignorance as an excuse for violating your drug-free testing policies. You must protect yourself by clearly stating your expectations and communicating those expectations in writing. 

Fortunately, you can communicate these policies in writing by creating a robust drug-free portion of your handbook. This should clearly lay out what you expect from your employees, how you will enforce a drug-free policy, and what the penalties for violating such a policy will be. 

What Should Be in My Drug Policy?

Your written policy should make numerous statements to support the idea of creating a drug-free workplace. This includes:

  • Statements about ensuring that no employee is under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the workday.
  • Statements about when drug testing can be conducted, how it will be conducted, and what the expectations and rights of any team members are.
  • Penalties for violating drug-free workplace policies.
  • Statements that protect an employee’s rights to use any prescribed or over-the-counter medication during the day, provided it does not interfere with the ability of that employee to conduct business.
  • Statements about how you will handle the use of medical marijuana as prescribed by a doctor. This is a complicated area: While dozens of states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, use of the drug remains illegal at the federal level. As such, you will likely want to consult with HR experts – like the team at HR for Health – about how you will manage this complicated area.
  • Resources on counseling or rehabilitation for any employee who has developed addiction issues and may want to seek treatment.

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What About Drug Testing?

Unless prohibited by state law, drug testing is permitted under certain circumstances. Just like with a drug-free workplace policy, you must clearly communicate any policy in writing. Furthermore, you must obtain written consent from your employees to conduct such testing. 

However, it is within your rights to make testing a condition of employment, and you can make the passage of a drug test a contingency on the offer letter so that you have written documentation of the requirement and/or condition of employment.. This consent should be stored if there are any questions in the future. Fortunately, HR for Health has cloud-based documentation that can manage this storage. 

All testing should be managed by a third party and handled in circumstances appropriate for their testing. This means there should be absolutely no at-home testing kits. 

Furthermore, your practice should create appropriate procedures about what to do if an employee fails a drug test. This includes notification procedures, punishment, the appeals process, and document storage requirements. 

Finally, it is worth remembering that your state may have specific laws governing the use of third-party drug testing and taking disciplinary action against employees for failing a drug test. Make sure you consult with an expert in this field, like those at HR for Health, for additional guidance. 

What Do I Need to Do?

As a practice owner or manager, you have clear obligations. Failure to create expectations of a drug-free workplace can lead to damaging allegations, reputational damage, and more. 

Things Your Dental, Optometry or Medical Practice Should Consider When Creating a Drug-free WorkplaceAs such, you must clearly communicate with all your team members that you have a drug-free workplace, and you must ensure that they understand how any drug-free workplace policies will be enforced. You have to also vet any drug-free workplace policies with HR experts, in order to ensure that the policies you create are in line with applicable laws.

How Can HR for Health Help?

At HR for Health, we’re here to help. We have many years of experience in helping practices create drug-free policies that protect their business, help them navigate the complicated world of third-party testing, and ensure that they do what they need to do to create a safe workplace.

If you are looking for more information, contact HR for Health today to set up a demo, and let us show you how we can help your practice thrive.

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