A Look at Why Employers Drug Test
There are many reasons why employers drug test employees although the laws around this can be quite difficult to understand. A fair and reasonable drug testing policy can protect not only employers, but employees as well.
Drug testing was first popularized by President Ronald Reagan. Under his administration in 1986, drug tests were required for federal employees. This standard transitioned to the workforce, and by 1996, more than 81% of American companies had drug testing policies in place.
Since then, the numbers have started to decrease. Fewer and fewer companies have drug testing policies in place. Nowadays, only about 57% of companies drug test new employees.
With addiction becoming a public health crisis, many employers are looking into implementing drug testing policies. This article will look at several reasons for employers drug test and the importance of establishing a drug testing policy.
#1. It Reduces the Company’s Liability
Substance abuse can lead to errors in the workplace. These errors can increase a company’s liability. A comprehensive drug testing policy will protect not only employers, but also the employees as well. It helps to ensure that the company will not be held responsible should any accidents happen.
“Employees who are addicted to drugs are 3.6 times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident.”
Companies that have determined that an employee under the influence can take action. They can either place the employee on probation and ask that they seek addiction treatment. Or, they can let the employee go without any consequences. In some cases, companies can even sue employees who have made mistakes on the job due to being under the influence.
Unfortunately, the laws surrounding drug testing at work are rather strict. There is a lot that companies can and cannot do. Companies that have decided to implement a drug testing policy should make sure that the drug tests:
- Have a defined purpose
- Outline the scope of who the drug tests pertain to, and who is responsible for its enforcement and administration
- Have appropriate resources on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse for employees
- Offer some type of assistance for getting help, like an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
- Establish and implement company rules that will prohibit the use, possession, sale or manufacture of drugs and alcohol on company property and on company time
- Outline the requirements for drug tests as required by state or federal law
- Outline the consequences of a positive alcohol or drug screening
There are a lot of other policies that need to be established and implemented. A clearly outlined policy will protect employers and prevent them from being held liable in the event of an accident as well. It’s important that companies can show that they have done everything in their power to ensure that employees are sober while at work.
#2. It Improves Overall Productivity within the Workforce
Alcohol and drug addiction have a huge impact on overall productivity in the workplace. Those who are addicted to drugs are twice as likely to request time off. They are also more likely to miss work. Studies show that employees who abuse alcohol or drugs cost American businesses $81 billion in lost productivity every year.
By ensuring that employees are so rude, companies are able to increase overall productivity. Employees are more likely to show up for work, and those who show up for work will produce higher-quality work. In short, it’s a good thing to do for employees who do not abuse any substances. Companies are getting a better bang for their buck. They are also getting better results and more work done within a short period of time.
All of this will reduce cost and improve profit margins. This is particularly important for companies that need to answer to a board of directors. Small businesses that have a small profit margin will also find themselves becoming more profitable. They can hire fewer employees and still get the same results. Companies can get a lot more done and achieve more goals.
#3. It Helps Employees Seek the Addiction Treatment that They Need
Although this may seem like a surprising reason to drug test employees, drug tests can actually help many employees get the substance abuse treatment help that they need. Companies who are able to identify at-risk employees or employees who are already addicted to drugs can help these individuals get the help that they need.
Many companies have EAP for employees who need help. They may also be able to connect employees with alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers that offer specialized recovery programs for certain professions.
#4. It Reduces Overall Cost
Oddly enough, companies who drug test also tend to reduce their overall cost of business. Studies show that substance abusers are more likely to incur medical costs. They’re also more likely to get into workplace accidents. Companies will indirectly have to pay for these costs. Those who hire substance abusers would usually have to pay higher insurance premiums.
Another important thing to note is that it can cost businesses anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000 to replace a salaried worker. Unfortunately, the turnover rate for substance abusers is quite high. Many substance abusers will jump from job to job. Those who are able to hire people who do not use any substances will usually see more stability in their workforce.
The Cost of Drug Testing Is Less than the Cost of Hiring an Addict
Some companies are slow to implement a drug testing policy because of the costs associated with it. Not only does the drug testing cost money, but the time and energy spent implementing and establishing the drug testing policy can also be rather costly. Companies must speak with an attorney to make sure that they are abiding with employment laws.
With that said, the cost of implementing a drug testing policy is less than the cost involved with hiring an addict. If you hire an addict, you will not only see a dip in overall workplace productivity, but you may also see an increase in overall cost. Your company may start to pay higher insurance premiums to cover the rising medical costs, and you may also find yourself hiring more staff in order to get the same job done.
Once the policies are established, the rest of the costs remain relatively low. All you really need is to hire people to administer the drug tests and to pay for the drug tests themselves.
Different Types of Drug Tests
Companies that are interested in drug testing employees will have four different drug tests to choose from. Depending on the industry which one is working in and where one is residing, there are different employment laws surrounding the types of drug tests that are allowed. Let’s explore the four different types of drug tests that are available below:
- Saliva tests. These tests are perhaps the least invasive; however, they do not usually have a long detection window. The individual receiving the test will just opt for an oral swab. The process is quick and easy, and also relatively inexpensive in comparison to many other alternatives.
- Urine tests. This is by far the most popular type of drug test in workplaces. The individual being tested will provide a urine sample. Companies may implement different policies to ensure that the tested individual is providing a sample of his or her own urine. Some addicts may try to pass off someone else’s urine as his or her own.
- Blood tests. Blood tests are usually not used in the workplace setting. It’s not only incredibly invasive, but it’s also expensive as well.
- Hair tests. Companies that are interested in getting a detailed analyst may opt for hair tests. These tests can screen for drug and alcohol use within a 90-day window.
Companies need to have a good understanding of the types of drugs that each test can screen for. They also need to take into account the cost of each type of drug test when choosing a suitable one to use.
Addiction Does Not Discriminate
Many people do not realize that addiction is prevalent even in some of the more professional workplaces. Recent statistics show that 70% of the estimated 14.8 million Americans who use illegal drugs are actually employed. These individuals can be accountants, teachers, doctors, lawyers and more. Some of these individuals may even hold highly esteemed positions in the community.
It’s important to remember that addiction does not discriminate. Anyone can get addicted to alcohol or drugs.
Amethyst Recovery Center is dedicated to helping these individuals get the help that they need. We offer a wide range of addiction treatment programs for all types of addictions. It doesn’t matter what your vice is. We can help you recover from any substance use disorder (SUD). Contact us for more information.