FAA Issues Notice of Enforcement Discretion for Random Drug and Alcohol Testing


As the pandemic continues, so do changes to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) guidelines and regulations. In March, the DOT issued guidelines on drug and alcohol testing but has since then made adjustments to the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) guidelines due to the continuously fluctuating workforce and operational disruptions that the pandemic has caused. COVID-19 has made it challenging for employers to meet minimum random drug and alcohol testing requirements under several circumstances. Although they have made more accommodating changes, random drug and alcohol testing is still required.

The FAA announced on November 6th that it would continue to exercise discretion not to take enforcement action against employers that are unable to meet random drug and alcohol testing rate requirements for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The FAA had already issued guidance for aviation employers that acknowledged awareness of potential issues that employers could face, such as limited testing facility availability, limited access to collection personnel, etc.

What Should Employers Do?

FAA-regulated employers are required to continue to conduct random drug and alcohol testing and “make every effort to meet the minimum annual testing rates of 25 percent for drugs under 14 CFR §120.109(b) and 10 percent for alcohol under 14 CFR §120.217(c) during calendar year 2020.” Employers that are/have been unable to perform testing due to COVID-19 must make “reasonable efforts” to make up missed tests by the end of the calendar year in an effort to meet the established random rates. If a test is unable to be completed due to the pandemic, employers should document the reason and their “reasonable, good faith attempts” to have the testing take place. Additionally, documentation must be made of an employer’s attempts to identify alternative testing sites, other testing resources, etc. Employers are required to maintain this documentation with their mandated random testing records for potential review by an FAA inspector. If random testing has been unable to be spread “reasonably” throughout the year as is normally expected, employers should document the specific reasons as to why they were unable to meet this FAA requirement.

Are There Any Exemptions?

The FAA has not suspended random drug and alcohol testing requirements and is not providing a compliance exemption for employers. The FAA has determined that they may exercise discretion to not take enforcement action against employers that are unable to meet the 2020 random testing requirements provided that the employer made “reasonable good faith attempts” to test and that exercising discretion would be consistent with aviation safety.

How Can DISA Help?

Safety remains the utmost priority, especially during such uncertain times. Our professionals can ensure that you maintain compliance and keep up with the latest changes to federal regulations. Many of our customers must comply with FAA standards; that’s why DISA has gone through great lengths to enhance drug and alcohol testing measures and procedures at our collection sites. As of March 18th, DISA collection sites:

  • Require donors to fill out an initial risk survey when entering the facility
  • Allow donors to wait in their cars until it is their turn to maximize social distancing and prevent crowded waiting rooms
  • Enhanced cleaning procedures of all facilities

Helpful Links:

· The Safety of Drug Testing Collection Sites Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Are you an employer and still have questions regarding employment screening?

DISA can help! Get answers directly from DISA’s subject matter experts with ‘Ask DISA’

Visit www.askdisa.com to ask your questions today.

About DISA Global Solutions

Founded in 1986, DISA is the industry-leading provider of employee screening and compliance services. Headquartered in Houston, with more than 35 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada, DISA’s comprehensive scope of services includes drug and alcohol testing, background check, occupational health, and transportation compliance. DISA assists employers in making informed staffing decisions while building a culture of safety in their workplace.

DISA Global Solutions aims to provide accurate and informative content for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The reader retains full responsibility for the use of the information contained herein. Always consult with a professional or legal expert.