Testing Guidance for Returning Furloughed/Laid-off Employees: FAA

Testing Guidance for Returning Furloughed/Laid-off Employees: FAA

Pre-employment Testing

The following guidance is provided on the FAA website:

Is an employer required to conduct a pre-employment drug test on a safety-sensitive employee who is on extended leave or furloughed?

No. An employer is not required to conduct a pre-employment drug test and have a negative result prior to returning an employee to work after an extended absence or furlough.

An employer may conduct a pre-employment test when the following criteria are met:

  • The individual previously performed a safety-sensitive function for you and is not being rehired or transferred into a safety-sensitive function;
  • The employee was removed from the random testing pool for reasons other than a verified positive test result on an FAA-mandated drug test or a refusal to submit to such testing; and
  • The individual will be returning to the performance of a safety-sensitive function

If an employer’s policy is to remove employees from the random testing pool while on an extended absence or furlough, we believe it is a best practice to conduct a pre-employment test and have a negative result if the absence or furlough lasted longer than 60 days.

Random Testing

If an employee was selected for random testing and not available for testing during the selection period (e.g. quarter, month) because the employee was furloughed or laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can either “excuse” the employee from testing and document the reason for the uncompleted test, or you can test the employee after his/her return from furlough/lay-off so long as the testing is accomplished by the end of the calendar year.

FAA published guidance:  “You should make every effort to test employees during the testing period. However, if an employee selected for testing is unavailable due to a military leave, sick leave, furlough, vacation or travel, the regulation allows you the option of excusing the employee or holding the random selection until the employee returns within the testing cycle or calendar year.”

FAA also provided the following statement in its COVID-19 Guidance document: “If, due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 national emergency, you are unable to perform random tests during the current testing cycle, you should make up the tests by the end of the year in order to achieve the required 25% rate for drug testing and 10% for alcohol testing.”