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Should You Drug Test Your Employees? Pros and Cons of Drug Testing for Any Business Owner

To test or not to test — that is the question. Whether an employee is using illegal drugs or abusing prescription ones, they can impact both the employee in question and those around them. Drugs can cause impairments to motor function, decision-making, and impulse control, none of which have a place in a safe workplace. Irresponsible behavior and drug-induced accidents can open your company to lawsuits, added expenses, and distrust amongst staff.

According to EHS Today, the federal government estimated that if all workers between the ages of 18-40 were drug tested, approximately 25% would test positive. That is a substantial figure, and one business owners shouldn't ignore.

Generally, employers that drug test employees do so at least at one of the following times:

  • Pre-employment
  • Post-accident
  • Randomly

Learning the pros and cons of drug testing can help determine if this practice is right for your company. In 2020, it was reported that 56% of U.S. employers use pre-employment or random drug testing. But ultimately, it's up to you to decide which testing you want to implement, if any.

Before you choose, begin by making yourself aware of state laws. With the recent rise in remote workers, it is more pertinent than ever for employers to educate themselves on state and local drug testing regulations.

Pros of Employee Drug Testing

There are various reasons to adopt drug testing into your business procedures. For example, you may decide to drug test potential employees to vet them before they start working, after an accident to protect against potential lawsuits, or at random to provide accountability.

Prioritizes Employee Safety

In general, employers who want to perform drug-testing tend to have employees that have dangerous or safety-sensitive jobs. A safety-sensitive job, by definition, is a position in which the employee is responsible for their own safety and/or the safety of others. Operating heavy machinery, working with chemicals, and driving or piloting public transportation vehicles are a few such positions. 

If an employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol while at work, an accident can happen in the blink of an eye. This can result in damages, injuries, or even deaths. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that impaired employees lead to 3.5 times more workplace accidents, causing liabilities, lawsuits, and general distrust within the company.

Drug testing helps ensure that all staff are within their right mind and capable of working safely, promoting a feeling of security amongst your staff.

Can Reduce Legal Liability 

Whether an employee directly causes a workplace accident or is just involved in one, it can cause various legal issues for both the employee and the employer. Filing a workers' compensation claim for medical costs and lost-wage benefits is standard protocol and can affect your company's financials. Drug testing employees reduces potential legal liability for yourself, your business, and any innocent staff involved.

You have the right to deny compensation claims if you have a reasonable doubt that the employee was following safety protocols or believe they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident. Usually, an injury caused by intoxication is not covered by workers' compensation. So instituting post-accident drug testing is a good way to help protect your company from these claims.

Post-accident testing should be done within 12 hours of the incident because different drugs have different windows of detection. It is also a good idea not to allow the employee back at work until you know the test results.

Do bear in mind — even if the employee tests positive for drugs, that doesn't necessarily prove that drug use caused the accident. Be aware that a lawyer for the other side may try to use such a theory to their client's advantage.

Provides Peace of Mind

Employers and employees want to see the business and company succeed. Drug testing can support a safer, happier, and more productive workplace by creating the type of environment where people want to work.

With the implementation and maintenance of a drug-testing program, there is usually a reduction in accidents and a decrease in employee absenteeism, tardiness, theft, and other behavioral problems. With these issues occurring at a lower rate, you can foster an environment of happy, healthy, and productive employees. 

Cons of Employee Drug Testing

There are more pros than cons when it comes to employee drug testing. But it's up to you as the employer to decide what steps are important to you and your company.

Can Lead to Unfair Dismissal Lawsuits

Implementing post-accident or random drug testing may put you and your company at the center of unfair dismissal lawsuits. Some employees who lose their jobs because they tested positive for illegal drugs may sue, citing wrongful termination. Specifically, they may claim they were not on drugs during work hours or that the workplace drug policy was unclear.

Even if you win the case, your company can still end up losing money. Lawsuits are not only costly, but they also take time and focus away from productive work hours.

Additional Expense

Drug testing is not free, and interested employers must allocate a budget for any drug testing programs. To estimate an average cost, there are multiple factors to consider: 

  • The number of potential candidates and current employees in need of testing
  • The type of drug tests you plan to administer
  • The frequency of testing

Another consideration is timing. When drug testing an employee, there can be a delay between giving the test and waiting on the confirmation of results from a certified lab. During this time, the employee cannot work, resulting in a loss of productivity. 

To avoid this, choose a drug testing company with a network of certified labs at its disposal. This way, you can receive confirmation of results with the greatest possible haste.

Can Create an Atmosphere of Distrust Between Employees and Management

Although drug testing makes some employees feel safe and cared for, other employees may react by feeling violated and not trusted. Yet others may feel that the company should not be able to judge them on what they are doing on their own time in their private life.

Some employers have even faced backlash over a perceived double-standard regarding alcohol. Hangovers have been linked to job inefficiency, irritability, memory loss, decreased attention span, and the inability to assess risks and make qualified decisions. Many employees feel that if they can be tested for drugs, not testing for alcohol sets an unfair precedent. 

Countrywide Testing

At Countrywide Testing, we provide employers, families, medical institutions, and correctional facilities with drug testing and fully licensed and accredited laboratory services. We know you need results fast. We offer reliable, accurate results at affordable prices with a turnaround time of 24-48 hours.

Countrywide Testing has a proven track record with over 25 years of experience so that you can feel confident with our services. Shop our selection online or call us at (469) 356-8607 to find the right products for you and your business.


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