What Happens if I Fail a Work Drug Test

Prue HillOct 25, 2023
Bringing years of recruitment expertise, Prue's focus since 2017 has been on advancing CorporateChoice Healthcare, pioneering full pre-employment assessments, and servicing national health assessment firms at CorporateChoice's various locations across Australia.

What Happens if Your Drug Test Comes Back Positive at Work?

Navigating the complexities of drug testing in the workplace can be a challenging experience, particularly if you find yourself in the position of having returned a positive test. CorporateChoice Healthcare, specialists in Corporate Health Services, including comprehensive Drug and Alcohol Testing, aims to guide you through this process, ensuring clarity, support, and understanding.

Before delving into the implications of a positive drug test, it’s crucial to have a clear grasp of how the drug testing process works. CorporateChoice Healthcare follows stringent procedures to ensure accuracy and fairness in every test conducted.

The Role of Pre-Employment Screenings

Many employers opt for Pre-Employment Medicals that include drug and alcohol screenings as part of their hiring process. This proactive approach aims to establish a safe and productive work environment from the onset.

The Types of Drug Tests

Drug tests can vary in method, ranging from urine, blood, hair, saliva, and breath tests. Each type has its unique advantages and is chosen based on the specific requirements of the employer and the nature of the workplace.

Ensuring Accuracy and Confidentiality

CorporateChoice Healthcare prioritises the accuracy of test results and the confidentiality of all individuals involved. The testing process is conducted by trained professionals, adhering to the highest standards of practice.

What Does a” Positive” Drug Test Mean?

A positive drug test indicates that one or more illicit substances or their metabolites have been detected in an individual’s system. It’s important to note that a positive result does not necessarily point to impairment at work or addiction.

Differentiating Between False Positives and True Positives

Occasionally, certain medications or foods can trigger a false positive result. In such cases, it is vital for individuals to communicate openly with their employers and the testing facility, providing documentation if necessary.

Confirmatory Testing

Upon receiving a “positive” or “non-negative”   result, a confirmatory test is typically conducted to validate the initial findings. This second test is more precise, eliminating the possibility of false positives from medications or other substances.

Navigating the Aftermath of a Positive Drug Test

The period following a positive drug test can be fraught with uncertainty and stress. However, understanding your rights and the potential courses of action can significantly alleviate this burden.

Engaging in Open Communication

Open and honest communication with your employer is crucial. Disclosing any prescription medications or other relevant information beforehand can prevent misunderstandings and protect your position.

Understanding Your Employer’s Drug Policy

Every organisation should have a clear and comprehensive drug policy in place. Familiarising yourself with this policy is imperative, as it outlines the procedures and potential consequences of a positive drug test. Articles such as “Workplace Drug Testing & Industrial Manslaughter Laws” provide valuable insights into the legal landscape surrounding drug testing in the workplace.

The Role of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Many companies offer Employee Assistance Programs to support employees through challenging times, including instances of positive drug tests. These programs provide confidential counseling and resources to help individuals navigate their situation and seek the necessary help if needed.

Considering the Legal Implications

Depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the positive test, there may be legal protections in place for employees. It is advisable to seek legal counsel to understand your rights fully.

Unravelling the Implications of a Positive Drug Test

When a drug test comes back positive, it sets off a series of actions and decisions that need to be taken by both the employer and the employee. The implications can be significant, and it’s essential to handle the situation with care, professionalism, and understanding.

Impact on Employment

Facing Potential Disciplinary Action

A positive drug test can lead to various consequences, ranging from suspension to termination, depending on the company’s policy. Employers need to act consistently with their established drug policy and any applicable employment laws.

Exploring Rehabilitation

Some companies may offer employees who test positive an opportunity to seek treatment and return to work upon passing a subsequent drug test. This approach aligns with the philosophy of rehabilitation and provides employees with a second chance.

Navigating the Legal Landscape

Employment laws vary significantly across different jurisdictions. Some regions provide more protection for employees, while others tend to favor employers. It's crucial to understand the legal context of drug testing in your area, and seeking legal advice is often a wise course of action.

The Importance of a Fair and Just Approach

Employers must ensure that their drug testing policies are applied consistently and fairly. Any sign of discrimination or unfair treatment can lead to legal challenges and damage the company’s reputation.


Best Practices for Employers and Employees

For Employers: Creating a Supportive Environment

  1. Clear Communication: Ensure that all employees are aware of the drug testing policy, the reasons behind it, and the potential consequences of a positive result.
  2. Consistency is Key: Apply the drug policy consistently across all levels of the organisation.
  3. Support and Resources: Provide access to Employee Assistance Programs and resources for employees who may be struggling with substance abuse.

For Employees: Protecting Yourself and Your Career

  1. Know Your Rights: Familiarise yourself with your employer’s drug policy and your legal rights regarding drug testing.
  2. Seek Legal Advice if Necessary: If you face disciplinary action due to a positive drug test, it may be beneficial to consult with a lawyer to understand your options.
  3. Be Proactive: If you are taking prescription medications that could potentially lead to a positive result, inform your employer beforehand and provide the necessary documentation.

Preventative Measures and Education

Promoting Awareness and Understanding

  1. Workplace Training: Conduct regular training sessions to educate employees about the risks associated with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as the company’s policies regarding these issues.
  2. Resource Availability: Make sure that educational materials and resources on substance abuse are readily available to all employees.

Implementing a Comprehensive Drug Policy

A clear and comprehensive drug policy is a crucial component of a drug-free workplace. Ensure that the policy is well-communicated, consistently enforced, and includes information on available support for those who may need it.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

EAPs play a vital role in supporting employees facing substance abuse issues. They provide confidential counselling, resources, and assistance to help individuals overcome their challenges.

Leveraging External Resources

CorporateChoice Healthcare is committed to supporting businesses and individuals in maintaining a healthy and safe work environment. Explore our blog for a wealth of information on various health-related topics, including substance abuse and workplace safety.

Practical Tips for Maintaining a Drug-Free Workplace

For Employers:

  1. Regular Drug Testing: Implement regular and random drug testing as part of your workplace safety program. Ensure that the process is fair, transparent, and adheres to legal standards.
  2. Foster a Supportive Culture: Create an environment that encourages open communication and provides support for employees dealing with substance abuse issues.

For Employees:

  1. Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated on your company’s drug policy and the resources available to you.
  2. Seek Help if Needed: If you are struggling with substance abuse, do not hesitate to reach out to your EAP or other support systems.

Facing a positive drug test at work can be a daunting experience, but with the right knowledge, support, and resources, individuals and employers can navigate this challenge effectively. CorporateChoice Healthcare stands as a committed partner in this journey, offering expert drug and alcohol testing services, educational resources, and unwavering support.

Maintaining a drug-free workplace is a collective effort, requiring commitment from both employers and employees. By fostering a culture of awareness, support, and proactive intervention, we can create safer, healthier work environments for everyone.

We encourage you to explore our services and resources at CorporateChoice Healthcare, and to reach out to our team for any assistance or inquiries you may have. Together, let’s commit to a safer, healthier future.


The information provided in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. While we strive to ensure that the content is accurate and up-to-date, CorporateChoice Healthcare does not guarantee the completeness, reliability, or accuracy of the information.

Any actions taken based on the information provided in this blog post are at the reader’s own risk. CorporateChoice Healthcare is not responsible for any losses, damages, or negative consequences that may result from implementing any information provided.

It is crucial for individuals and employers to consult with qualified professionals, such as legal counsel, medical professionals, or human resource experts, before making any decisions related to drug testing, employment policies, or employee health and well-being.

The links provided in this blog post are for convenience and do not constitute an endorsement of the content, products, or services offered on external websites. CorporateChoice Healthcare has no control over, and assumes no responsibility for, the content, privacy policies, or practices of any third-party websites or services.

By using this blog post, you acknowledge and agree to this disclaimer. If you require professional advice or services, please contact CorporateChoice Healthcare directly or seek the assistance of qualified professionals in your jurisdiction.


Disclaimer: The information provided herein is for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional medical advice or recommendation. Always consult with your qualified health care professional before making any changes or decisions regarding your health or wellness