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Pre-Employment Drug Test

What is a Pre-Employment Drug Test?

A pre-employment drug test is a drug screening procedure that usually involves the collection and analysis of a urine specimen after an offer of employment pending test result(s) as a criterion to begin work. In Canada, employers may conduct pre-employment drug tests within business sectors tailored around safety-sensitive positions that carry potential health risks to the job in question.

While the overarching goal for pre-employment drug testing is to avoid substance abuse issues among the workforce, employers face a struggle between maintaining a drug-free climate and upholding human rights protection laws. According to the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA), drug or alcohol addictions represent a disability, thus, underpinning an employer’s obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to facilitate an individual’s capacity to meet job performance standards. Given the legalization of recreational marijuana, pre-employment drug tests can present legal challenges, in particular, when false positives draw on the suspicion that purported regular use warrants a health and safety concern.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) aligned with the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) operate as the baseline for governing all Canadian-oriented laboratories to advance drug testing procedures. With many commercial products featuring marijuana as a base ingredient (i.e., edibles), companies can request a pre-employment drug test via a laboratory clinic to otherwise rule out undetectable signs of impairment. Though employers must err on the side of caution to sidestep discrimination liabilities, a pre-employment drug test follows cutoff levels that hold accuracy per the Department of Transportation (DOT) matrix with job candidates entering safety-sensitive positions. 

While Canadian measures may seem inconsistent, employers reserve the discretionary privilege to apply pre-employment drug tests as a beneficial tool for minimizing or eliminating the incidence rate of substance abuse among their workforce. Businesses can draft health and safety policies outlining all drug testing procedures to show compatibility with existing provincial and territorial laws.

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