What is a Pre-Access Drug Test?
A pre-access drug test is a test to be completed before an employee begins work at a new site or worksite. This typically takes place when an individual is already employed, but needs access to another company’s worksite. Although no federal mandate exists covering a blanket regulation for drug testing protocol, many employers can opt for pre-access drug tests as a safety measure to protect themselves against liabilities.
While regulatory drug testing can help curb drug-related incidents on the job, governmental initiatives over lenient drug laws carry a far-reaching impact affecting overall business in provinces across Canada. Employers who utilize pre-access drug tests as a viable way to clear applicants and employees of current drug use can run into legal repercussions.
Most companies operate under the banner of a zero-tolerance policy for substance abuse in the workplace; however, independent employers, or contractors, that outsource projects have different issues when trying to maintain a drug-free environment. For example, a general contractor may authorize pre-access drug test measures for a subcontractor’s employees to follow, but if an employee fails to consent, the general contractor can arbitrarily deny access to a worksite. Depending on the circumstances, union representation can often help parlay collective bargaining discrepancies, in particular, treating drug testing procedures as a means to an end by streamlining productivity and maximizing the bottom line.
Although a positive test result is significant, it does not necessarily reflect persistent drug use nor demonstrate the quality of work expected from a potential job candidate. However, the legalization of recreational drugs such as marijuana, for example, presents the challenge of appointing recreational users to safety-sensitive positions while bypassing discrimination claims if an employee cannot gain access to a worksite. A health and safety policy that incorporates pre-access drug tests into its drug testing guidelines can be a useful preemptive way to address any potential issues.