What are your responsibilities as the Designated Employer Representative (DER)? If, as a manager or owner tasked with choosing a DER, what are you asking of the employee or union rep selected?

When we speak of the governance of drug testing we are referring to those entities that produce regulatory requirements for drug testing. Many types of regulations govern how we conduct drug testing in a given situation and how those results are reported. Federal regulations, requirements of a union or company policy are all important as it affects the testing and reporting procedures, which in turn affects the function of the DER.

The DER is an person authorized by the employer to take immediate action(s) to remove an employee from safety sensitive duties and to make decisions required in the testing and evaluation process. The DER also receives test results and other communications regarding the testing process.

Multiple DERs are not advised. Firstly the DER name and contact number are printed on the ATF (Alcohol Testing Form) There should be no confusion on who the proper contact is as the nature of this testing is confidential. Secondly: consistency. Multiple DERs can lead to  conflicting interpretations of policy and procedures.


The responsibilities of the DER vary with each company. The basic responsibilities are:

  • Receive Drug & Alcohol test results
  • Remove employees from safety sensitive function immediately upon receipt of certain test results.
  • Refer employees to the Substance Abuse professional (S.A.P) and facilitate the return to duty process.
  • Coordinate physician referral and reports for “Shy Bladder” and “shy Lung” situations.
  • Report test results to agency and / or state and local authorities if required.

The company may choose for the DER to cover the basic functions or may choose to expand on these duties.

It is equally important for the DER to know and understand the roles of the key players in Drug & Alcohol Testing and how they relate to one another.

All test results must be received in a secure manner such as secure fax line (a machine that is not available for the general office) or password protected website, secure down load or email.

A great deal of importance must be placed on how the results are received to ensure no unauthorized access is allowed. Acting as DER carries responsibilities often overlooked, and choosing a DER wisely is a sound investment in time.

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