If you’re like most employers who drug-test applicants and/or employees, chances are you make them “go in a cup” – the urinalysis method.

But another, more robust testing method is gaining popularity – hair analysis. Might this test be right for your organization?

Here are some considerations that may be important if you’re thinking about implementing hair analysis instead of, or along with, urinalysis:

  • According to its proponents, hair analysis detects drug use much farther in the past than urinalysis. The former goes back about 90 days, as opposed to about five for the latter. This could be a useful feature if, for example, you want to ensure job applicants don’t stop drug use to pass a “pee test,” with possible intent to resume once they’re hired.
  • Applicants/employees who have nothing to worry about may see the hair test – which requires the clipping of 80-120 strands – as less invasive of their privacy than the urine test.
  • You may occasionally have to do hair testing to accommodate a person with a urinary-related disability. The EEOC recently sued a staffing company who refused to let an applicant in Raleigh, NC – who couldn’t urinate due to kidney failure – take a hair test instead.
  • Some states treat hair analysis and urinalysis equally under their drug testing laws, but others have specific provisions relating to hair testing. Check your state’s law. Nationally, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of urinalysis, but hasn’t taken up the question of hair analysis.
  • Hair analysis is typically more expensive to conduct than urinalysis.

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