The legality of requiring job application fees

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in Hiring,Human Resources

Q. We have a problem with applicants who pass the pre-hiring process but then decide for some reason that they don’t want the job after all. They fail to show up their first day on the job. By that time, we have already spent time and money on drug tests and orientation, and turned down other promising applicants. Can we require applicants to submit fees to apply, which we will refund if we don’t hire them, or if they remain employed for a minimum period of time?

A. Colorado law does impose restrictions on fees for applicants. If you want to charge fees, your application process must meet the requirements of the law.

C.R.S. 8-2-118(1) prohibits employers from requiring “any employee or applicant for employment to pay the cost of a medical examination or the cost of furnishing any records required by the employer as a condition of employment, except those records necessary to support the applicant’s statements in the application for employment.”

The Colorado Division of Labor takes the position that, for purposes of this statute, a drug test is a medical examination. Therefore, if an employer wants to impose a fee for the cost of a drug test, the application should include a statement from the applicant that he or she is not using illegal drugs. 

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