Although the concept of workplace drug testing emerged many years ago, it remains a controversial issue for many companies. While most employees view it from a negative light, organizations argue that they have a right to enforce drug-free policies within their boundaries. According to reports from experts, however, the cost of drug abuse for business owners has been estimated to run well into the 9-figure territory. This, combined with the trend of marijuana legalization, means it’s the high time more employees put some effort into understanding what fuels the concept, and its usefulness as well.
Why Do Companies Adopt Drug Testing Policies?
Contrary to popular opinion, the lack of trust isn’t what drives organizations to have their employees tested for drugs. While some do it to keep people under influence from working at their premises, the practice has become widespread for more reasons than most people realize, including:
-Safeguard reputation: From an employer’s perspective, having someone who uses illegal substances within one’s workforce can erode the company’s reputation. This is why more companies have now embraced pre-employment testing. Often, the test will be specified as a condition of employment when a job position is advertised, and potential recruits are tested after accepting an offer. Besides upholding one’s reputation, pre-employment drug screening also demonstrates a company’s responsibility towards the larger community in which they’re located.
-Reasonable suspicion: With a good number of firms now embracing drug-free workplace policies, employees are now finding themselves under increased scrutiny. Reasonable suspicion testing is a surveillance technique where supervisors stay on the lookout for observable symptoms of drug usage among their staff members. Still, there must be a clear definition of the kind of behaviors that would justify testing, and any suspicion needs to be corroborated by another supervisor.
-Following an accident: When an accident occurs as a result of someone’s error, the person will be tested to determine whether they were under influence at the time. Such tests are usually conducted when personal injury or property damage results from the incident. Still, the test could be triggered even if neither of these occurred, which is why most firms call them “post-incident tests.”
-As part of rehabilitation: Some companies have further expanded their drug-free initiatives to rehabilitate people who test positively for drugs. Under the arrangement, a company will cater for the treatment of such individuals. Following rehabilitation, tests are carried out to determine if the person should be allowed to return to work. Some employers may also use such tests for employees who have been absent for a significant period of time.
-Periodic testing: Here, tests are usually scheduled in advance and administered uniformly.
-Random testing: Some companies also choose to test their employees without notifying them in advance as a way to deter drug usage. Random testing is performed on an unpredictable basis, usually on individuals who have been placed in a testing pool. Most organizations use computers to generate the pool, for purposes of upholding randomness and ensuring that each member of the workforce population has an equal chance of getting picked.
Employers Have A Part To Play Too
While employers adopt drug testing policies for the benefit of everyone within the organization, employees still have some legitimate concerned about the concept. For instance, some individuals may be worried about failing tests while under prescription medication. Others, on the other hand, may have heard stories about people who were wrongfully terminated following a failed test. Companies must, therefore, take these issues into account before they can introduce testing programs.
In particular, holding training sessions prior to the introduction is a good way to familiarize employees on the issue and allay their fears as well. Partnering with a qualified testing service provider can also make it possible to differentiate between substance abuse and the legitimate use of prescription drugs. This information should be included in the employee awareness program.
Workplace drug testing has been a contested issue through the years. Some see drug tests as a violation of employees’ privacy, while others claim that they can’t tell the difference between one-time substance use and long-term abuse. Nevertheless, both organizations and employees share similar goals as far as workplace safety goes, which is perhaps a good enough reason for the latter to change their attitude towards the concept.