Workplace Drug Testing Do’s and Don’ts
Under federal law, there is almost no limitation at all on the right of private employers to adopt drug and alcohol testing policies for their workers. At New England Drug Testing, we would like to answer two key questions regarding drug testing policies in the workplace.
Why would I want drug testing in the workplace and how does any business organization develop a good, basic drug testing policy?
So, why might you want a drug testing policy in your place of work?
Statistically speaking, many who abuse drugs and alcohol are part of the U.S. workforce. According to the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 74.9 percent of all adult illicit drug users are employed full or part time. Most binge and heavy alcohol users are also employed full or part time.
The effects of long-term substance abuse on an employee can include declining health conditions, depression, mental illness, financial struggles and more. These repercussions don’t just affect the employee during their personal time, but also while they are on the job. Employee drug abuse places considerable stress on the workplace for both the employer and those working alongside the drug user.
Short-term impact to the workplace can include inconsistent work quality, decreased employee productivity, and impaired cognitive or physical function leading to accidents. Long-term effects include workplace conflict, potential for theft – to support a drug habit, missed deadlines resulting in lost clients, or (in worst case scenarios), costly lawsuits resulting from an impaired employees actions.
Substance-abusing employees may cost your business more time, money and headache in the long run. Drug-using employees, compared to non-using employees tend to:
- Have higher turnover rates
- File more workers’ compensation claims and have higher insurance premiums
- Be late or absent during the workweek
- Get involved in an accident
- Lose efficiency and productivity
Things to consider for a good, basic drug testing policy:
Most policies start out by emphasizing in positive terms the need for safety in the workplace and adherence to job requirements and work quality, and go on to cite goals such as improving safety and productivity. The policy should address certain questions:
- What will be considered a violation? (necessary)
- Which employees will be covered? (necessary)
- What disciplinary measures will result from violations? (necessary)
- Will the company allow rehabilitation? (optional – not required by any Texas or federal law)
For an example of such a policy, see the drug testing policy section of “The A to Z of Personnel Policies”.
Like any policy, an effective drug and alcohol policy should be given in writing to all employees. Employees should sign a written acknowledgment that they have received a copy of the policy. Employers usually make signing such a policy a condition of being hired. While it is common for such a policy to be part of an overall policy manual, it is probably best to have each employee sign a separate form consenting specifically to the search and testing policy.
Whatever you do, at New England Drug Testing, we highly recommend at least a pre-employment drug screen. Contact us now at 508-762-1146 to learn more.