Employer FAQs

Q: Do I have to give SAP referrals to applicants that test positive?

A: Yes, if you have an applicant applying for a safety-sensitive position and the individual tests positive, the DOT regulations mandate that you provide the applicant with a SAP referral.

Q: What will happen if I don’t give SAP referrals to employees and applicants?

A: According to the DOT regulation 49 CFR Part 40, all companies with safety-sensitive employees that test positive on a random, pre-employment, reasonable suspicion or post-accident test, must give SAP referrals. If an organization fails to do so, they can be subject to severe fines by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Q: Do I have to terminate an employee for testing positive?

A: The decision to terminate an employee who has tested positive is left up to the organization and its internal policies. There are no federal regulations requiring the termination of a safety-sensitive employee.

Q: Can my EAP provide SAP services?

A: EAP counselors deal with a spectrum of emotional issues that affect employees, such as relationships, family stress, anxiety and substance abuse. An EAP counselor utilizes different procedures and requirements concerning confidentiality. The majority of EAP counselors do not meet the qualification standards required to perform DOT mandated SAP evaluations.

Q: How do I find a SAP in my area?

A: Call SAP Referral Services (SRS). We have a national network.

Q: Does SRS have providers in every state?

A: Yes, SRS has DOT qualified providers in over 3,000 locations nationwide and in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and Canada.

Q: Should I enter into a contract with a service agent?

A: It is up to you whether or not to use a service agent. If you use service agents, the rules do not require a written contract, but having a written contract makes good business sense. A contract should include how and where the services will be provided, prices, and who will do what and when. To protect yourself, you should include a provision in the contract that allows you to replace the service agent if the service agent isn’t providing services that comply with DOT rules.

Q: How do I know if a SAP is DOT qualified?

A: Call SAP Referral Services (SRS). SRS rigorously credentials all their affiliate SAPs.

Q: Can my employees go to a local substance abuse treatment center and be evaluated by a substance abuse counselor?

A: Not all Substance Abuse Counselors meet the qualifications of the Department of Transportation. SRS’ provider network is thoroughly credentialed and monitored to ensure adherence to all DOT SAP regulatory requirements.

Q: How long is a SAP program?

A: The time required to complete the DOT return-to-duty program is determined by the SAP and is based on the individual’s need for either treatment or education.

Q: Is the employer, responsible for payment of the SAP program?

A: The DOT does not require the employer to incur the cost of the SAP program. This decision is left up to employers themselves and employees themselves to decide and may be governed by existing management-labor agreements.

Q: Can my employee see another SAP if we don’t agree with the recommendations of a SAP?

A: No, DOT regulations strictly prohibit second opinions. The employee must comply with the recommendations of the original SAP.

Q: How will I know if the employee follows the SAP’s recommendations?

A: The SAP is responsible for monitoring compliance of the employee’s treatment and/or education programs. SRS will also assist in facilitating communication to the DER regarding compliance.

Q: Can my employee return to safety-sensitive work after they get the recommendations from a SAP?

A: No, the employee must show compliance to the recommendations and be seen by the SAP for a follow-up evaluation.

Q: Who decides when the employee is ready to return to work?

A: Only the SAP can determine if the employee is eligible to submit to a return-to-duty test. As the employer, it is a personnel decision that you have the discretion to make, subject to collective-bargaining agreements or other legal requirements.

Q: What are the employer’s responsibilities regarding follow-up testing?

A: As the employer, should you choose to return an employee to safety-sensitive duties, you are responsible for conducting follow-up testing as prescribed within the SAP’s follow-up report.

Q: May an employer have a policy of declining to hire applicants who have a negative dilute test result on a pre-employment drug test?

A: The Department’s rules do not require an employer to hire anyone. That decision is an employer’s. While 40.197(b) authorizes an employer to obtain one additional test following a negative dilute result (in pre-employment or other testing situations), a negative dilute test result is a valid negative test for DOT’s purposes.

Because a negative test result is a negative test for DOT program purposes, the employer is authorized to have the applicant begin performing safety-sensitive functions. If the employer declines to hire the applicant in this situation, the employer’s decision is based solely on its own policy. The employer cannot claim that its action is required or authorized by DOT rules.

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