The management of a company’s drug and alcohol program is an important function. In a smaller company, a secretary may be charged with this responsibility. In a large company, it may be a full-time job for an individual or group of people. The title for this manager is DESIGNATED EMPLOYER REPRESENTATIVE (DER).
Who can be a DER?
Anyone who has the authority to remove an employee from safety-sensitive duties in a U.S. Department of Transportation regulated business, under rule 49 CFR Part 40. (Many non-DOT companies that have a drug and alcohol testing policy also have someone assigned to this role.) According to DOT regulations, the DER oversees the entire drug screening process, reports test results to federal agencies, responds to the Third Party Administrator (TPA) and more. It’s a big job and one that TSS employees spend a lot of time supporting. Our goal is for the DER to understand the regulations that we are working with so they can ensure that the employer is compliant and people in the workplace are safe. Therefore, TSS provides training for all the DERs we work with, at no cost.
What are the DER’s Duties?
- The DER is the liaison between the employee, all professionals involved in the drug and alcohol testing process, the employer and federal authorities. The DER strives to ensure that the testing and reporting process moves along as smoothly as possible. This can mean dealing with a resistant employee or making sure that the employer has hired qualified service providers for testing. When there is an irregularity or a positive test result, the DER typically is responsible for taking the next steps with the employee such as removing them from safety-sensitive duties, ordering another test, or providing Substance Abuse Professional contacts for the employee.
2. The DER is responsible for maintaining the records of the drug and alcohol program. According to the regulations, these records must be maintained in a separate location from HR files. We are often asked why. The answer is simple. Various employees in the HR department may have access to employee files such as insurance, emergency contact, pay status, etc. The drug screening records are confidential and should not be available to anyone other than the Designated Employer Representative.
3. The DER also ensures that the TPA has accurate records regarding the employees that are required to be in the testing pool. To help the TPA do their job, the DER is responsible for ensuring that the records are always updated and that individuals who are no longer performing safety sensitive duties or have left the company are removed from the testing pool. TSS and the DERs in our consortium work together to provide high level management of the testing protocols. This protects the donor and the company.
4. The DER is the person who works with the modal agency that has oversight of their workplace for the drug and alcohol regulations. If an audit is required, the DER provides the records and reviews them with the auditor.
As you can see, this is a very important job within the drug screening industry. We look forward to seeing you in a future DER class. Whether you are a TSS client or not, we feel it is important for a DER to gain as much knowledge as possible about the drug screening environment, the regulations, and how to ensure a quality experience for the employer and employee. Contact TSS to learn more about our DER training classes.