Faint Lines: Why Your Employees Are Failing Drug Tests

March 28, 2018

Drug Testing Articles


Why Your Employees are Failing a 5 Panel Drug Test

Did most of your employees fail a 5 panel drug test? You might be misreading the results. Click here to understand common issues like faint lines.

Ensuring that workers aren’t using drugs is important when your company has a zero-tolerance drug policy. Many companies keep an eye on their employees and ensure they aren’t abusing drugs through random testing.

One of the most popular tests is the 5 panel drug test. This allows employers to test for a variety of drugs, such as marijuana or opiates, that could lead to accidents at work.

If you administer a test and find faint lines, you’re likely worried about what this leads to, including terminating an employee. Faint lines aren’t always a cause for concern and should be examined carefully.

Learn more about what they mean, and how to avoid misreading results on a drug test.

Understand a 5 Panel Drug Test Includes a Cut-Off Limit

When administering a drug test to your employees, know that there are cut off limits involved for various drugs. Employees sometimes have the drug in their system, but because it is under the limit that is being tested for, it won’t register as positive.

Although a test registers as negative, an employee could still use and fly under the radar, without it showing. For those that have positions that require observing specific safety rules (such as individuals who drive or operate heavy machinery), a company may ask the employee to complete other tests if they are unsure about drug usage.

Knowing that there is a cut-off limit can help you determine when an employee has a problem and becomes a liability to the company.

You’ll feel confident knowing that the tests aren’t so sensitive they pick up on too much. You’ll also know when something gets detected, it’s a problem that needs addressing.

Know That Faint Lines Mean the Test is Still Negative

Some employers worry when they administer a 5 panel drug test that if there are any lines present, even faint ones, this indicates an issue. Drug tests shouldn’t be viewed in the same manner as a pregnancy test, where even a faint line indicates a positive result.

Instead, drug tests with faint lines mean the result is negative. If you have an employee test for marijuana and opioids in their test and there are faint lines on both, the test is negative.

Not all drug test have equal footing.

Those used by law enforcement often have a lower cut-off level. That’s because in these cases the tests need to indicate if the individual is actively using or not.

Often within the workplace, many employers want to know if the employee is taking anything illegal while on the clock, but don’t have control of what they do when they’re at home. For these reasons, it’s crucial to think read the test carefully, and understand what the results are.

If you’re incorrect about something and discipline or fire the employee, they have legal grounds to contest the incident. This leads to a drawn-out process when it comes to dealing with legal matters.

Always be certain that a drug test is positive, and not simply faint lines, which are still considered a negative for the purposes of drug testing.

Watch Out for an Invalid Response

There are some cases when an invalid response occurs when an employee has taken a 5 panel drug test. Often these are due to:

  • The test not being administered properly
  • Not enough or too much of a specimen
  • Faulty test

Invalid tests often have no line at all going through the test, in either the control or the test region, where something would normally appear. When this happens, it’s important to disregard the results of the invalid test and have a new one administered.

Although companies take care to ensure their tests are of high quality before going out to an employer or testing center, problems still occur. Knowing that this is a possibility and has no bearing on the employee is important when going through the steps to administer a new test.

Consult Your Company’s Policy Before Doing Anything

If you have an employee with positive test results, or you’re worried about several employees failing their 5 panel drug test, make sure you know the drug testing policy for your company before taking any further steps.

Adhering to the policy and keeping other management informed of what’s happening:

  • Keeps you in compliance
  • Prevents employees from suing you because you made a mistake or accused them of something during drug testing
  • Keeps employee morale higher, since employees aren’t detecting an outward negative attitude that is focused on them only

If you find that you have to handle an employee who has a positive test, you’ll know exactly what to do and how to follow company procedure. Even if your employees all test negative, you’ll feel confident knowing how to handle the situation if it ever comes up again.

Learn More About Drug Testing and the Workplace

If you’re about to administer a 5 panel drug test to your employees and you’re worried about the results, make sure you understand the real results of drug tests. Employees who have a faint line in their test are still considered negative, despite common misconceptions about drug testing.

Make sure you’re aware of company policy, so you know how to handle problems if they come up. Knowing what an invalid response looks like and understanding that there is a cut-off limit helps further your knowledge of how the tests work.

If you’re interested in knowing everything that pertains to drug testing and the workplace, check out our blog on 5 panel drug tests, and know how they work before having an employee tested.

You’ll gain greater insight to the test itself, and help your company avoid possible legal issues.

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