April 12, 2024

Staying Current: Offering drug testing policy development services is smart

By Guest Contributer

By Bill Current, Current Consulting Group

From the dawn of civilization, or at least since the beginning of the drug testing industry, a written drug testing policy has been crucial to the success of a company’s drug-free workplace program. The policy is where employees learn the why, who, what, how and when of the company’s program—why the company conducts drug testing, to whom testing applies, what kind of behavior is considered a violation of the policy, how drug testing is performed, and when testing will be conducted (pre- and post-employment).

Yet, despite its importance, a drug testing policy is sometimes treated as an afterthought by employers and drug testing providers. Providers do a great disservice to their clients by not emphasizing the critical importance of a well thought out policy that reflects a client’s drug testing objectives and covers all applicable state laws and federal regulations. Too many providers simply give their clients a one-size-fits-all model policy or policy template that makes no mention of applicable state laws and requires little more than inserting the company’s name and address at the top.

5 Incentives

Here are five compelling reasons why drug testing providers should offer customized policy development and review services.

  • First, it’s the smart thing to do for both you and your clients. Many companies do not have the internal resources to draft an effective, legally compliant drug testing policy. They also tend to rely on their drug testing provider to help them make important decisions about their program. If you don’t offer policy services, they will get that help from some other source, which leaves a wide-open gap in your relationship with that customer. 
  • Second, why a company conducts drug testing determines how they test, and the policy is a blueprint for achieving those objectives. As you guide a client through the process of accurately identifying their drug testing objectives and deciding how best to achieve those objectives, you are recording all of it in a policy that keeps you connected with your client from month-to-month and year-to-year. As laws change, you’re there to update important policy language, further solidifying that relationship. In a very true sense, the policy also serves as a blueprint for retaining satisfied clients for the long run.
  • Third, a state law-compliant policy helps maintain a legally defensible drug testing program. Companies that conduct drug testing look to their providers for help in beating back legal challenges. For this reason, the drug testing provider who offers policy services has a significant competitive advantage over those that simply offer boilerplate policy templates.

    That said, developing a solid drug testing policy customized to reflect all applicable state laws does not necessarily require the services of an attorney; in fact, most attorneys would not know how to write a good drug testing policy. A drug testing expert with access to the state law information is needed to ensure each client’s policy is customized to reflect all applicable laws. This includes drug testing specific laws and laboratory licensing laws, legal marijuana laws, industry-specific drug testing laws, workers’ and unemployment compensation regulations, and case law decisions. It can get complicated, but anything short of a customized policy with individual addendums for each applicable state leaves clients exposed to possible claims of non-compliance.

    [Author’s Note: Over the years, there have been several attorneys, most of whom are well-known in the industry, who have devoted much of their legal careers to understanding drug testing law. They don’t all write drug testing policies, but they can be very helpful in answering questions about state drug testing laws and federal regulations.]
  • Fourth, it sets your company apart from much of your competition in a very positive way. In a world in which most drug testing providers offer virtually all the same services at very similar prices, differentiation can be hard to achieve, but it is often the difference between winning and losing new business (not to mention retaining existing business). Drug testing policy development services, supervisor and DER training courses, and the ability to answer questions about state law and federal regulation is a tremendous value-added way to stand out from the crowd and gain a valuable competitive advantage.  
  • Fifth, it is a great source of additional revenue for drug testing providers. Most employers not only expect to pay for policy review and development services, but they’re happy to have someone help them develop a legally compliant policy because it’s not something they could do easily themselves. Policy services should be included in every proposal, every RFP, and every sales meeting with new and existing clients. If your clients are not accustomed to you providing policy services, an introductory email or phone call to describe this new service will be welcomed by virtually every one of your customers. 

Ready. Set. Now what?

Okay, I can tell you’re convinced. Offering policy services just makes a lot of sense, from a customer service perspective and a business perspective. It will lead to more interested prospective customers and happier existing clients. It is, from my many years of providing policy development services, the one thing a TPA or CRA can add to their list of services that will help them sell more of everything else they offer. But there are three main reasons why most providers don’t offer policy development services: 1) they don’t know how to write policies, 2) they don’t have easy access to all the state law information necessary to write customized policies, and 3) they don’t want to write policies because it’s time-consuming, complicated, and fraught with possible legal pitfalls. 

Don’t despair. You still can offer excellent policy services without having to do much of the work yourself. Here’s how:

  1. Outsource it to one of the excellent consulting firms in our industry that specializes in drug testing policy development services. Look for the following when outsourcing this service: a) a consulting firm with a track record of writing policies (it’s very hard to break into the policy writing business and be any good at it in the beginning, so look for a consulting firm with plenty of experience, and ask for references), b) they should be a member of NDASA (this means they are active in the industry, likely to contribute to the welfare of the industry, and they’re interested in seeking knowledge), and c) they should be happy to share the revenue with you; it’s only fair, after all, they’re your clients. 
  2. Hire someone to handle the onslaught of policy projects your company is going to start getting once word gets out among your clients that you’re now offering this service. If you choose to go this route, look for someone with the following attributes: a) a good writer because they will be drafting customized policy language in virtually every project, b) someone who loves reading state laws and federal regulations because they are going to do a lot of that, and c) someone who knows drug testing – that’s a must.
  3. Work with a labor law firm or labor attorney. Not all attorneys will want to write drug testing policies or have the capacity to be good at it. However, a labor attorney will have a better chance of figuring it out than an estate lawyer. That said, they’ll be more expensive than the other two options above, and they may not want to share the revenue with you. But if you want to offer the service and would prefer to simply hand it off to someone else and not have to worry about it, this may be the way for you to go.


Years ago, the federal government did a study on what makes an effective drug testing program. I cannot find the study to reference it here, but if you’ll trust my memory just this one time, the conclusion of the study was that a comprehensive program that includes a written policy, supervisor training, and an employee assistance program will more likely produce the desired results from drug testing than a program that relies only on drug testing.

One last reference to the good-old days, when we used to say about drug testing, “Do it right, or don’t do it at all.” A written drug testing policy that accurately reflects a company’s drug testing objectives, that is customized to reflect all applicable state laws and federal regulations, and one that is updated regularly (the legalization of marijuana has made it imperative that policies get reviewed at least quarterly and updated accordingly), makes it possible for employers to conduct drug testing the right way, the legally compliant way. 

Drug testing providers who offer policy services give themselves a competitive edge that can often make the difference between winning and losing new business and retaining existing clients. It’s just the smart thing to do.

The Current Consulting Group offers a comprehensive, regularly updated on-line database of state drug testing laws through an online subscription service available through NDASA. Visit CurrentCompliance.org and make sure to mention NDASA to receive a special discounted rate.