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Do Temp Agencies Drug Test?

Applying for work with a temp agency is often a quick way into a job. But as a recreational drug user, you could find it more difficult to get through the application process. Of course, you’re hoping that the answer to “do temp agencies drug test ?” is a simple no, but nothing is ever simple these days.

Even though many of the jobs on offer are entry-level, temporary jobs, you could still have to pass a drug test.

In this article, we’ll give you some guidance about when you could be drug tested, and what type of drug test it’s likely to be.

When Do Temp Agencies Drug Test?

Do Temp Agencies Drug Test

One of the big problems you’ll have as a drug user applying for jobs is trying to figure out exactly when you’ll have to take a drug test. You obviously want your system to be drug-free on the day of your test, so it’s understandable that you want to know what timeline to expect.

Unfortunately, temp agencies all have their own policies and procedures, so we can only outline some possible scenarios.

See Also: Temp Agencies That Hire Felons

Drug Test At Clients’ Request

Some temp agencies only drug test if a client company requests testing. Often when you look through job listings online before applying to an agency, you’ll see a notice on the listing stating that passing a drug test is a condition of employment.

If you see notices on some listings with an agency and not on others, that should indicate that the agency doesn’t drug test as a routine hiring practice.

In this case, it makes sense to apply for positions without the drug testing condition, although you won’t find the information on listings from every agency.

Drug Test During Sign-up

Other temp agencies have a policy of testing all candidates as part of the sign-up process. This can be the case with agencies that need to deploy short-term workers to client sites with little advance notice.

When you go through your online application, if a drug test is going to be necessary, you should see a notice that asks you to give your consent to a drug test.

You could be called in for a job interview the same day that you make your application, so it’s a good idea to wait until you know your system is clear before you begin the sign-up process.

Drug Test After Conditional Job Offer

Drug Test After Conditional Job Offer

The third pre-hire scenario is where a temp agency doesn’t drug test you initially but will test you once a client company has made a conditional offer of employment.

Getting the timing right in this scenario is much harder because you have no control over when a job offer will be made.

You could try to delay things for a couple of days by not accepting the job offer right away, but your agency will be urging you to hurry up and accept the job, and if they don’t hear from you, they could line up another candidate to take your place.

The best advice we can give you is to suggest that you avoid taking drugs when you’re applying for new jobs.

Many of the jobs available through temp agencies are in factories and warehouses, where safety is a top priority because of the dangerous equipment being used. These workplaces usually have policies against drug use in place.

If you can’t apply to certain jobs because they have a drug testing requirement, you’ll limit the number of jobs you are eligible for.

Random Drug tests Once Hired

Many temp agencies also reserve the right to carry out random drug tests. That’s not to say they will pounce on you for a new sample, but that they could. They use the specter of a random drug test to try to keep workplaces drug-free as much as possible and to instill confidence in their clients.

If random drug testing is going to be a possibility, your temp agency will have this requirement listed in their drug testing policy.

Regular Drug Testing

Some agencies supplying workers for safety-sensitive jobs will conduct regular drug tests. The tests could take place monthly or every three months. Again, if this will be a requirement of the job, you’ll be told about it during the application process.

How Do Temp Agencies Drug Test?

Temp agencies may carry out an in-house drug test, but often they will ask you to make an appointment with a nearby clinic to give your sample.

In-house and clinic-based drug tests will be either a mouth swab test or a urine sample test. The hair follicle and blood testing are both very expensive and unheard of for most types of pre-employment testing.

Mouth Swab Drug Test

Mouth Swab Drug Test

When you’re asked to take a mouth swab test, you won’t be able to eat or drink anything in the 10 minutes before your sample is collected. This is so you can’t put anything in your mouth that could interfere with the result.

Then your saliva sample will be collected with a Q-Tip type swab. It’s very quick, and it doesn’t hurt. If they test in-house, they could process your test while you wait, or they may send the sample to a lab.

A mouth swab test is usually a 5-panel test that screens for the following substances:

  • Opiates
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamine and methamphetamine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

Drugs can usually be detected in saliva for up to 48 hours after your last use. But if you use marijuana, the drug may be in your system for much longer.

This is because THC binds to fat cells and if you have a high percentage of body fat and you use marijuana regularly, your body can have a lot of THC on board.

Urine Sample Drug Test

If your agency requests a urine sample drug test, they may do an in-house test, but usually, the test will be done at a clinic.

When you give your sample, you’ll use a bathroom with the water turned off so you can’t dilute your urine. The water in the toilet bowl may also have blue dye in it, to prevent attempts at urine dilution.

Once you’ve handed your sample to the tester, they will check that the sample is at body temperature to make sure that it hasn’t been diluted in any way. Then they may process it right away or send it down to the lab.

A urine screen is often a 5-panel screen, or it could be a more thorough 10-panel test. The 10-panel urine test screens for the following drugs:

  • Opiates – possible to detect for up to 4 days.
  • Cocaine – detectable for up to 3 days.
  • Marijuana – can be present for up to 30 days (sometimes longer) depending on the level of use.
  • Amphetamine and methamphetamine – detection window up to 4 days.
  • Phencyclidine (PCP) – may be present for up to 2 weeks.
  • Benzodiazepines – detection window of up to 6 weeks.
  • Barbiturates – could be found up to 6 weeks from last use.
  • Methadone – can be detected for up to 2 weeks.
  • Methaqualone – detectable for up to 14 days.
  • Alcohol – detection window is up to 5 days.

How long these drugs will still be present in a sample depends on which drug it is, how much was taken and whether it was a one-time use or chronic use.

What Happens If Your Drug Test Is Positive?

If your initial drug test is positive, the sample has to undergo a more detailed analysis using gas chromatography.

If that test also comes back positive, your temp agency will let their client know about your results, and then the client will decide if the type of drug found and the amount present makes hiring you a risk they don’t want to take.

A positive test could also mean that the agency decides they won’t put you forward for any other jobs.

Another possibility is they tell you that you failed the test and they can’t give you work at the moment, but ask you to reapply in a few weeks’ time.

Obviously, if you get an invitation to reapply at a later date, you’ll want to make sure that you’re clean so you don’t ruin your second chance.

Related Article: Does Adecco Drug Test?

Take an At-Home Drug Test To Find Out If You Can Pass A Drug Screen

One way that you can know if you’re likely to pass an employment drug test is to buy an at-home testing kit and test yourself. You can get saliva and urine test kits from pharmacies and online retailers.

Once you get a clear result, you can approach agencies without worrying about any drug test they might want to do.

Frequent Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you ask a recruiter if they drug test?

Can you ask a recruiter if they drug test?

Yes, you can ask a recruiter if they drug test, but that would be a terrible idea. By asking about a drug test, you’re voluntarily disclosing that you take drugs. While a recruiter wants to get you into a job, they also need to maintain good relations with the companies they hire for.

If a candidate they provided to a company clearly had drug issues after being hired, that would be a problem for the recruiter. So if you ask a recruiter about a drug test, you could find that you don’t get job offers and any conditional offer you already have could be rescinded.

At what point in the hiring process is a drug test?

Some temp agencies will want you to take a drug test as part of the sign-up process. While others will only ask you to take a drug test if the company you’re applying to requests one.

If the drug test is part of the sign-up process, the agency will ask you to schedule an appointment for a test once they’ve assessed your application. If an employer requests a drug screen, the test usually takes place after they have made a conditional job offer.

Is it good to get a job through a staffing agency?

Getting work through a staffing agency can be a very good move. You’ll have access to lots of jobs that are never advertised to the wider public, your recruiter will do their best to get you into a job, and you can apply for jobs that need staff right away which means you can start work as soon as the next day.


When you’re considering applying for work with a temp agency, it’s best to assume that you’ll have to take a drug test. The agency may or may not drug test you when you sign up, but the company employing you could ask for a test once they’ve decided to hire you.

The type of drug test they carry out will depend on the drug testing policy of the company you’re being placed at. Often you’ll take a mouth swab drug test, but you could be asked to submit to a urine test and urine tests have a longer substance detection window.

Related: Companies That Don’t Drug Test Before Hiring.