By David Lazenby
Proposed revisions to the county’s employee drug testing policy were tabled Tuesday to give county commissioners more time to examine the changes.
New policy author, Dan Willingham, the county’s attorney, suggested board members wait to make a decision on the matter.
The policy requires a drug and alcohol test for any employee who causes damage to county property or who reports an on-the-job injury. Modifications to some provisions in the policy were made recently in response to questions posed during the commission’s June 23 meeting.
Inquiries included whether minor equipment damage would be included under the policy. Other questions involved a new aspect of the policy that allows employees who test positive for drugs to keep their jobs by undergoing a drug treatment program.
“It gives them an opportunity to keep their employment, but get rid of a bad problem,” Willingham said at the June 23 meeting.
At least one in attendance at that meeting wondered how many times an employee would be allowed to go through rehabilitation in order to retain their jobs. County Revenue Commissioner Kay D. Williams-Smith asked, “How many chances under this new policy are they going to have? They’ve got to understand we’re here to help you, but we’re not going to help you every six months.”
Willingham said after the first rehabilitation, the privilege would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Another question about the policy posed by Commissioner Doug Williams regarded why county elected officials are not held to the same standards of county employees.
“I’ve looked at that, but elected officials is such a broad term that there’s no provision mandating any elected official to do so,” Willingham said. “If elected officials want to take the test they can, but the county can’t mandate it.”
In regard to testing for damage of county property, Willingham said the extent of the damage may be considered in deciding whether a drug test was warranted.
The cost of drug/alcohol tests is about $33, according to Marie Livingston, who works for accounts payable. The tests are conducted by ASC Occupational Health.
Under the proposed policy, county employees entering a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program in order to keep their jobs would be required to pay for the service themselves or through an employee benefit plan.
Willingham said the new policy stipulates post-rehabilitation follow-ups be performed to make sure employees who go through a program remain drug-free.
By David Lazenby