What Is the Drug-Free Workplace Act?

The Drug-Free Workplace Act is an act that requires federal contractors to meet certain requirements or conditions in order to be eligible for federal contracts.

A company will only be awarded a contract, for goods or services that are higher than the simplified acquisition threshold and not commercial items, by a Federal agency if they provide a drug-free workplace.

The Drug-Free Workplace Act necessitates the need for federal contractors to establish a drug-free workplace in order to qualify for and maintain a federal contract or grant. It does not concern those that are not planning on applying, or currently have, a federal contract. This includes subcontractors and sub grantees.

Coverage of the Act needs to be applied to every grant or contract, including new applications. Grants under the act do not cover the entire company, but do cover employees working directly on the grant. Although highly advisable, a drug-free workplace for all employees of the organization is not mandatory.

The Act covers individuals with contracts or grants, but requirements vary for organizations. The organizational requirements are more in-depth as companies need take greater steps to adhere to the Act and create a drug-free workplace. It is recommended to use the Drug Free Workplace Advisor Tool for clarity on coverage and requirements of the act.

The Drug-Free Workplace Act is applicable to contractors with contracts of $100, 000 and greater, excluding procurement of commercial goods, and who are on U.S. soil. Further compliance may be necessary depending on the relevant state laws that apply to the contractors and the individuals who hold the federal contracts.

Although the Act is lacking in strength and requires little effort to adhere to it on part of contractors and grantees, it did create a much-needed focus on the issue of drug abuse in the workplace. This assisted in a law being passed that requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to test over 10 million employees in safety-sensitive transportation jobs.

Drug-Free Workplace Act History

In 1988 the Drug-Free Workplace Act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The Act was created in response to two drug related events in 1986 and 1987 - an accidental overdose of baseball star Len Bias and a train crash caused by a conductor under the influence of drugs.

Drug-Free Workplace Act Requirements

The company must release a statement communicating to employees that the illegal production, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of controlled substances in the workplace is prohibited and further outline the procedure that will go into effect if an employee is found in violation of the terms of the statement.

The company should create drug-free awareness programs to educate employees on the dangers of drug abuse. The company should further create policies on maintaining a drug-free workplace as well as counselling and rehabilitation programs. Employees should be informed of the disciplinary action that may take place should they violate the drug-free prohibition.

The company should ensure that employees, especially those involved in the contract, receive the communicated statement and that they understand that abiding to the terms of the statement is a condition of employment.

Employees are obliged to inform the employer, within 5 days, of any criminal drug conviction. The company is obliged to notify the contracting agency of such a notice within 10 days of receiving the employee notice or the actual conviction.

The company must require the participation of the convicted employee in a drug rehabilitation program. The company should take steps to continually maintain a drug-free environment.

An individual will only be awarded a federal contract if the individual agrees that for the term of the contract they will not participate in the illegal

  • Production
  • Distribution
  • Dispensation
  • Possession or
  • Use of controlled substances

The DOL has created a Drug-Free Workplace Advisor Tool that assists organizations in determining if they are subject to the Drug-Free Workplace Act. The tool provides a list of questions that assess whether the organization is subject to the law. It also provides clarity on the requirements and penalties of the Drug-Free Workplace Act.

Contractor Suspension, Termination, and Debarment

Federal contracts conditions must be maintained throughout the life of the contract. A contract may be suspended or debarred, and contracts terminated for a variety of infractions. The Federal agency retains the rights to suspend payment, debar the contractor, or terminate the contract if it is found that the contractor is in violation of the requirements of the Drug-Free Workplace Act.

If the Federal agency discovers that the contractor or individual has failed to provide a drug-free workplace the agency has the right to suspend or debar the contractor. If it is discovered that there has been a violation of the Drug-Free Workplace Act, the agency concerned will initiate applicable agency procedures and actions in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation. The Federal Acquisition Regulation will be adhered to while administering the suspension and debarment of the individual or contractor. The Federal Acquisition Regulation provides guidance and rules regarding providing notice, suitable occasion for response, and other regulations that offer fair proceedings to the individual or contractor.

Contractors and individuals that have been debarred no longer qualify for federal agency contracts for the time period stipulated in the decision (cannot exceed 5 years). Companies that fail to inform the relevant Federal agency of occurrences of drug violations in the workplace, within the required time, may face contract termination, suspension, or debarment.

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