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Self-admission policy

From 1999 to 2010, the amount of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies, hospitals, and doctor’s offices nearly quadrupled, despite no overall change in the amount of pains reported by Americans. CDC estimates one out of five patients with non-cancer pain or pain-related diagnosis are prescribed opioids in office-based settings.

Such numbers may prompt some employers to rethink their drug and alcohol policies and offer an employee assistance program for rehabilitation rather than lose a good employee.

Self-identification program

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) has an optional provision, a Self-Identification Program, that permits employees to self-identify drug use or alcohol abuse without DOT consequences. The decision whether to establish such a program is voluntary. The goal is to encourage employees to disclose a drug or alcohol problem before reporting for duty on any given day. However, a driver cannot self-identify in order to avoid testing under the requirements of Part 382.

Once the driver has disclosed the alcohol or drug problem under the policy, the employee may not perform a safety-sensitive function until the employer is satisfied that the employee has been evaluated and has successfully completed an education or treatment program, as determined by a drug and alcohol abuse evaluation.

Contents of the policy

A qualified voluntary self-identification program or policy must contain the following elements:

  • It must prohibit the employer from taking adverse action against an employee making a voluntary admission of alcohol misuse or controlled substances use within the parameters of the program or policy and 382.121(a);
  • It must allow the employee sufficient opportunity to seek evaluation, education, or treatment to establish control over the employee’s drug or alcohol problem;
  • It must permit the employee to return to safety-sensitive duties only upon successful completion of an educational or treatment program, as determined by a drug and alcohol abuse evaluation expert, i.e., employee assistance professional, substance abuse professional, or qualified drug and alcohol counselor; and
  • It must ensure that:
    • Prior to the employee participating in a safety-sensitive function, the employee undergoes a return-to-duty test with a result indicating an alcohol concentration of less than 0.02; and/or
    • Prior to the employee participating in a safety-sensitive function, the employee undergoes a return-to-duty controlled substance test with a verified negative test result for controlled substances use.

It may incorporate employee monitoring and include non-DOT follow-up testing.

Distribution of the policy

The voluntary self-identification program or policy must be given to the driver in accordance with 382.601, along with the other elements of the company policy, before the driver participates in the DOT random testing program.

If the motor carrier revises its existing DOT drug and alcohol testing policy to include a voluntary self-identification program or policy, it will need to reissue the DOT drug and alcohol testing policy to the drivers. The drivers must sign another receipt of the policy indicating the new date to demonstrate that the drivers were made aware of the revisions. Both receipts of the company policy (original and revised policies) would be retained in accordance with 382.401(b)(4), for the duration of employment plus two years after it ceases.