Should Federal Employees Have to Provide Hair Samples for Their Drug Tests?

HHS has issued proposed drug testing guidelines for federal employees that include testing hair samples.

Guidelines for Federal Employee Hair Testing

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is proposing guidelines for including hair specimens in the Mandatory Guidelines for the Federal Workplace Drug Testing Programs.

The proposed mandatory guidelines on drug testing would allow agencies to collect and test a hair specimen as part of their testing program. The limitations are that the hair specimens would be used for pre-employment (i.e., for applicants applying for federal testing designated positions) and random testing. 

An agency that uses hair specimens in testing would be required to authorize collection and testing of at least one other specimen type, such as urine or oral fluid, authorized under current guidelines. Agencies would also be required to set-up procedures for using the alternate specimen if a donor is unable to provide a sufficient amount of hair for faith-based or medical reasons, or if the person being tested does not have enough hair or the hair is too short.

An alternate specimen would be tested and reported in place of a donor’s positive hair specimen under certain conditions. The “two-test approach” is intended to protect federal employees from limitations of hair testing, and related legal deficiencies that have arisen.

Submitting Comments

Those who wish to submit comments on the proposed guidelines must submit them on or before November 9, 2020.

There are different options for submitting comments. These options and the options for each of the options are in the Federal Register notice announcing the proposed guidelines for hair testing in federal employee drug testing. Any comments submitted must refer to file code [SAMHSA-2020-0001]. Comments submitted facsimile (fax) transmission will not be accepted.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47