Posted: Thursday, January 2nd 2014 at 1:37pm
Drug testing for Gainesville employees to expand
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – At their first work session of the year the Mayor and City Council heard of plans to expand random drug testing among Gainesville City employees to enhance their drug-free workplace program.
Vikki Fox, Human Recourses Officer / Administrative Services, explained that the current drug-screening policy, implemented in August, 2003, tests job applicants, those employees giving reasonable suspicion, post-accident employees, and those covered by the Federal Transit Administration (bus and van drivers) as well as those holding a Commercial Driver’s License for the City.
Now, Fox said, the program would expand to include those whose jobs were ‘City-Safety Sensitive’.
"A Safety Sensitive position is defined as a position where inattention to duty or error in judgment could have the potential for significant risk of physical harm to the employee, other employees or the general public," Fox explained.
"This new (group) is now going to include police officers, fire fighters, water treatment plant operators, employees who operate equipment, as well as life guards…and employees who drive a city vehicle regularly during the normal course of their duties," Fox added.
The new zero-tolerance policy will take effect on March 1st, but there will be training offered beforehand as well as a "grace period" for employees with substance abuse problems to step forward and seek help without fear of repercussion.
"It is a zero-tolerance policy; if an employee should test positive…he or she will be terminated."
Councilwoman Myrtle Figueras agreed with the concept of the policy but asked, "What would encourage a person to go and get help…especially if it’s discovered that you have been using"
Fox responded, “If an employee prior to being tested comes forward and says, 'I have problem, I need help.' they can get that help. We’ll work it out, like a short term disability. They can get that help without any kind of disciplinary action being taken against them if they come to us prior to being tested."
"We are going to be training in January and February; even though implementation of the new policy will be March 1st, we probably will not start the random polling until the end of April," Fox said.
"We do need to allow them (employees) sixty days to say they have a problem.”
“We’re having two different training sessions: one’s for supervisors and one’s for employees," Fox said.
"I’m glad to see that this policy is here," Councilman George Wangemann added.
Fox said that testing will probably be done at Primary Care Clinics on Jesse Jewell Parkway under the supervision of Dr. David Hocker.
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