Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988

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Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleA bill to require the recipients of Federal grants and contracts to maintain drug-free workplaces, and for other purposes.
Enacted bythe 100th United States Congress
Legislative history
Major amendments
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988

The Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (41 U.S.C. 81) is an act of the United States which requires some federal contractors and all federal grantees to agree that they will provide drug-free workplaces as a precondition of receiving a contract or grant from a Federal agency.[1]

Although all covered contractors and grantees must maintain a drug-free workplace, the specific components necessary to meet the requirements of the Act vary based on whether the contractor or grantee is an individual or an organization. The requirements for organizations are more extensive, because organizations have to take comprehensive, programmatic steps to achieve a workplace free of drugs.[1]


The Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988 didn't come into effect until the late 1980s, when more employers began attempting to eliminate drugs in the workplace.[2] Before the Drug Free Workplace Act, there really was not a federal regulation that employers could use to enforce regulations on employees using drugs. Even though drug testing really didn't come into effect until the late 70s early 80s it can still be traced back to about the early 20th century.[3]

President Ronald Reagan signed the law due to the amount of drug abuse occurring in the military. Drug abuse had become such a huge problem that, "He issued Executive Order 12564 banning all federal employees (on and off duty) from using drugs."[4] Soon after this law went into effect, smaller corporations adopted the same rules. The law went into effect November 19, 1988.[4]


The policy put out by the United States Department of Labor states it is illegal for employees "to manufacture, distribute, dispense or have in possession prohibited controlled substances" [5] The enforcement of the law is not limited to one department or jurisdiction. It can included as part of the employment contract. As for enforcement of the law there really is not any one or any department to enforce it.[6] Marijuana is still considered a controlled substance due to it being illegal under federal law.


Violation of the Drug Free Workplace Act vary among companies, however, since this law is specific to federal contractors, then the penalties are standard. One can be penalized in the following ways: payment for activities can be revoked, contract can be terminated, and contractor may face prohibition from being involved in any future grants or contracts for a specified period of time. The agency that the contractor is involved with will determine if the law as violated and if the contractor should receive one or more penalties due to this violation.


  1. ^ a b "Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 Requirements". U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  2. ^ Younger, Beverly (1992). "The Drug - Free Workplace Act of 1988". Employee Assistance Quarterly. 7 (2): 15–40. doi:10.1300/J022v07n02_02.
  3. ^ "Drug Free Workplace act of 1988: Requirements". Confirm Biosciences. 2016-10-13. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Implementation of OMB Guidance on Drug-Free Workplace Requirements". Federal Register. 2011-06-14. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  5. ^ Scott, Sherrie. "Drug Free Workplace Regulations". Chron. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  6. ^ "Drug Testing in the Workplace: Can You Do it?". Accurate Information Systems. 2017-03-10. Retrieved July 31, 2018.