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As a national provider of employment background checks and drug testing services, we are always seeking to demonstrate WHY drug testing is important. Today on the blog, we wanted to revisit the top reasons WHY an employer would drug test. As the industry continues to evolve, you can count on ESS to stay ahead of the curve and any changing legislation, but it’s always important to remind ourselves of the many types of drug testing, and what situations may lead to those types.

Let’s take a look at 7 reasons a business would drug test an employee.

As a final hiring measure.

One key way drug testing works well for an employer is by helping to vet a prospective hire. Pre-employment drug testing occurs at the final stages of the hiring process, to ensure an employee is drug-free. A negative drug test result is required for an applicant to become official.


Unannounced drug tests help to prevent accidents and prevent your employees from using drugs. “Spot testing,” or random drug testing is a deterrent to drug users because the employees agree they are subject to testing at any point during their time with the company. Using a random selection process, an employer selects one or more individuals to be tested routinely, which helps to ensure there is no bias and that all employees have an equal chance of being tested.

Periodic Annual Testing

Some industries require annual periodic testing to remain in compliance. Typically these types of tests are agreed upon and occur throughout the year at a known time and date. Many companies choose this type to ensure employees know that they will be tested and don’t feel as nervous for a random test.

In response to an accident.

If an employee or employees are involved in a workplace accident, “post-accident testing” or “post-incident” testing may be in play. Employers who implement this type of policy establish criteria for how and under what situations drug testing will occur. Some examples of these criteria include but are not limited to, damage to a vehicle or property, fatality or injury on the job, or a run-in with the police. 

If someone suspects an employee is using drugs.

Evidence for a “reasonable suspicion” drug test, also known as “for-cause” drug testing is based upon direct observation. This occurs when someone at work visually recognizes that there are signs someone is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

To return to work.

In some industries, a failed drug test may not mean the end of the road, but it does mean you need to pass a test to stay on the road. “Return-to-duty” drug testing is for employees who have failed a drug test or violated a company’s drug and alcohol policy. A single test that is performed at a scheduled time, following the completion of a drug abatement program is often the situation for a “Return to work” drug test. 

As a follow-up to returning after a failed test.

If an individual is able to pass their “return to work” drug test, they may also be subject to routine follow-up testing to ensure they are staying on the right path. If an individual violated the drug policy in the past, and usually only occurs if the individual passed their return-to-work test, and returns to their position. 

These are 7 common reasons why drug testing occurs, but hopefully, this helps you to understand how the whole process works. It’s imperative in today’s world, with so much turnover, uncertainty, and economic struggle to not waste money hiring the wrong people. Drug testing and a solid background check partner who knows what your company needs most are great ways to help prevent high turnover costs. If you ever have any questions regarding your company’s current drug testing policy, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our contact form or by phone! Remember to connect with us on Linkedin!