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Employer Concern Expense of Pre-employment Drug Testing

19 Jul 2014

Case Report - Employer Concern Over Expense of Pre-employment Drug Testing

...Employer reports a high turnover business and cost of pre-employment drug testing has doubled due to a recent acquisition.  The employer is considering eliminating the drug testing program.  This is a retail establishment with 20 locations spread over three states. Recommendations are as follow: 

The employer has a drug testing program has a  concern of a high turnover causing a large number of pre-employment drug tests, and this is costly. 

First off, without an effective drug free workplace turnover will continue to remain high along with productivity issues, absenteeism, employee theft and other adverse activities among employees that are using illicit drugs.

The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported an estimated 23.9 million Americans aged 12 or older were current (past month) illicit drug users.  This estimate represents 9.2 percent of the population aged 12 or older.  8.9 percent of those employed full time reported use of illicit drugs, drug use is prevalent in our workplaces.

Drug testing programs provide a powerful deterrent to drug use on the job.  Employers not drug testing will have more drug users employed then employers with drug testing programs and those employers not drug testing will experience more accidents and more workers compensation claims. 

For this client the high turnover of the new acquisition causes a concern about the costs of the drug testing program.  I would recommend the following:

  1. Have a comprehensive written drug free workplace program developed
  2. Check all State laws in all operating States to insure compliance with State laws on drug testing programs
  3. Eliminate pre-employment testing except for management positions
  4. Ramp up random testing program to 5 – 6 per location per month
  5. Educate and train supervisors to recognize signs and symptoms of drug use or alcohol abuse at work 

Random drug testing is an effective deterrent to employee drug use.   Many employers overlook random drug testing.  A pre-employment test is easy to beat for a drug user, they stop using drugs for a few days, employers with no random testing will never deter drug use for this employee and possibly never detect this employees’ drug use.  Employers not conducting random drug testing are taking a risk towards workplace accidents and other detrimental effects of maintaining a substance user on the payroll.