Return to Duty Testing (RTD)

Last Updated: May 25, 2018

Definition - What does Return to Duty Testing (RTD) mean?

Return to duty testing (RTD) is a process required by federal guidelines following the removal from duty of a safety-sensitive employee covered by Department of Transportation (DOT) drug and alcohol testing rules for a drug or alcohol use violation.

A violation occurs when a covered employee either tests positive to a DOT required drug or alcohol test or refuses to test. In order for the removed employee to resume safety-sensitive duties, he or she must take a return-to-duty test.

Depending on the cause of removal, the employee must either take a drug test producing a negative result or an alcohol test with a result of an alcohol concentration level less than .02.

WorkplaceTesting explains Return to Duty Testing (RTD)

As part of the return to duty process under Department of Transportation (DOT) Rule 49 CFR 40, an employer has discretion to determine if an employee may be reinstated to a safety-sensitive position following removal due to a positive drug or alcohol test. However, the employee may not return to duty until several steps are completed, including clearance by a substance abuse professional (SAP) and completion of any assigned treatment or education program.

Further, the employee must submit to and pass a drug or alcohol test before returning to duty. If the employee is permitted to return to duty after a negative test result, he or she will be required to take a minimum number of follow-up tests. The total number of tests and the time over which they must be taken beyond this minimum are determined on an individual basis by the SAP.

An employee who has been removed from duty under the DOT drug and alcohol rules is disqualified from performing transportation-related safety-sensitive functions with any employer. Thus, once removed from duty, the covered employee must either refrain from working in safety-sensitive positions or complete the return to duty process in its entirety.

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