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Non-Negative Drug Test

What is a Non-Negative test?

Non-negative refers to an initial positive test result only from a POCT (point of collection test or express test) following the collection and analysis of a urine specimen or oral fluid sample, purportedly suggesting recent drug use by the subject in question. Although the term non-negative draws similarities with a positive test result, they differ in subtle ways. For example, the term would apply to an employee who refuses a drug test, or shows residual traces above the cut-off threshold, would have a non-negative result and would require laboratory confirmation before becoming a positive result.

From the outset, employers view drug testing as a cut-and-dried methodology for identifying the presence or absence of drug metabolites in the systems of their employees. However, a non-negative test result can prompt doubts that applicants or employees are capable of executing required duties and tasks on par with job performance standards. Canadian legislature extends relative autonomy to employers to incorporate drug testing procedures into a health and safety policy unless it applies to a safety-sensitive position. 

While a non-negative test result carries the implication of habitual drug use, polarizing opinions exist surrounding the link between drug impairment and work-related accidents. Employers who undergo training to observe behavioral cues suggesting drug abuse can also address fatigue and stress, which can often be concurrent factors attributed to cognitive dysfunction and physical limitations. Hence, the Ontario Law Reform Commission highlights performance tests as a criterion for gauging psychomotor skills, a useful approach in overriding preconceived biases against non-negative test results.   

With the legalization of marijuana, for example, affecting industrial sectors throughout Canada, many employers can be hard-pressed in recognizing human rights over recreational use against a drug and alcohol-free policy in the workplace. For safety-sensitive positions that require operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), non-negative test results demand scrutiny through laboratory testing to clear individuals for public transit of freight. When entering the United States, Canadian drivers become subject to the Department of Transportation (DOT) guidelines for standardized drug testing procedures in line with the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) statute.

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