The Designated Employer Representative (DER) is a title, and role, defined very specifically, by the Department of Transportation (DOT) in the United States of America. This role is one that may only be taken on by the employer themselves ie. the one who is running the drug and alcohol testing program, or someone working for them who they have designated into this role.
The DER may not be a service agent, it MUST be someone who is employed at the workplace who is running the drug and alcohol program, this is stated specifically within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The CFR holds all of the requirements for how a drug and alcohol program must be run by any company under its regulatory purview, this includes Canadian companies with activity, such as trucking, which takes place in the US. The section of the CFR which deals explicitly with drug and alcohol testing is the 49 CFR Part 40, and within that, the DER requirements are specifically laid out in section §40.3.
Roles of the DER
The DER is required to fulfil a number of administrative roles including management of the group pool for randoms, dealing with those who require pre-employment and post-incident testing. The DER would also need to make sure that any follow-up testing that is required is fulfilled and the needed results received to eventually complete a program. One of the most important parts of the DER’s administrative role is that of record keeping. As they complete all of the testing requirements they must keep meticulous records, and keep them organized well, in case there is an audit done by the DOT or any of their governing bodies.
The DER is the point-of-contact for all of the service agents which are used by the employer to help run their drug and alcohol policy, this could include entities such as a consortium, third-party-administrators, collectors, Medical Review Officers (MROs), Substance Abuse Professionals (SAPs), and any agents of the DOT or any other regulatory agencies/bodies who may require information at any time to ensure compliance.
As per the 49 CFR §40.11, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the service agents they are using are compliant with the requirements. This means that it is up to the DER to ensure that service agents being used are trained adequately and running the program as laid out in the 49 CFR. It is up to the DER to manage the pulling of employees for testing, removing employees who have tested positive, ensuring follow-up testing is being done as required) and making sure post-incident testing gets completed as necessary.
The DER is there to ensure that the employer’s drug and alcohol testing policy is run as it has been laid out, and part of that is making sure that all of the employees are aware of what they are required to do to remain compliant with that policy. This means that if there are any changes made by the employer, the DOT or any other regulatory body which oversees the company, the DER must make sure this information is passed on to all of the employees and that they understand what they are required to do to comply.