Workplace Drug Testing: Pros and Cons

  • Drug addicts are unreliable employees.
  • Just because their drug abuse is not a major problem at the moment doesn’t mean that the situation won’t escalate in the future.
  • The biggest upside of regular drug testing is the fact that it’s cheap and effective.

Hiring drug addicts and having them in your employ is never a good thing. Unfortunately, telling who is a drug addict and who is easy only when they reach later stages of their addiction. The problem is that this doesn’t mean that they aren’t a hazard before this stage. For this very reason, drug testing in the workplace is incredibly important. However, even something as positive as drug testing has both positive and negative sides. Here are some pros and cons of workplace drug testing that you should get familiar with.

Pro: The reliability of your staff

Drug addicts are unreliable employees. They call in sick days when they’re hungover, they lie in order to get out of trouble and they steal to maintain their drug habit. Even if they’re not heavy addicts, they’re unpredictable, unreliable and easy to agitate. The latter makes the workplace environment more hostile and volatile. Also, keep in mind that the concept of a gateway drug is not a myth. You should also remember that their habit and addiction might escalate. Just because their drug abuse is not a major problem at the moment doesn’t mean that the situation won’t escalate in the future.

Drug testing your employees is difficult. It requires you to buy suitable tests and schedule regular testing sessions.

Con: The logistics

Drug testing your employees is difficult. It requires you to buy suitable tests and schedule regular testing sessions. It requires you to supervise this, keep a record and make sure that everything passes in the best possible order. While the benefits outweigh these logistical complications, the truth is that it just adds one more elaborate task to the list. If you test people randomly, it can really mess up the schedule of your other HR responsibilities. If not, you have a problem with keeping everything balanced out and you compromise your own results.

Pro: It’s cheap and effective

The biggest upside of regular drug testing is the fact that it’s cheap and effective. First of all, you can order drug testing kits in bulk. This will drastically reduce the cost per unit. Second, you need to bear in mind the fact that drug testing kits tend to be quite reliable. For instance, if you’re testing urine, the majority of cups have a temperature-sensitive strip. This can ensure that the cup itself reveals if the urine is fresh or planted. In other words, if they try to swap the sample, which is the most common drug test evasion tactic.

Con: It can feel biased

Random testing can be particularly problematic from a harassment standpoint. Sure, you may have the legal right to test some of your employees for various types of drugs but doing so too often for some and never for others may seem biased. Of course, if the test returns positive, there’s no room for complaint but what if you insist on three consecutive random drug tests for a specific employee and they all come back negative. This employee can then assume that you have something personal against them. Fortunately, this instance is easy to avoid by testing everyone evenly, even if you don’t feel like there’s a need for such a thing.

Pro: Safety first

The biggest problem with drug abuse in the workplace is not the productivity drop but the workplace hazard. People make mistakes and it’s incredibly important that you understand why. Sometimes people are distracted. At other times, they’re neglectful. Then, there are instances in which they’re just reckless. Drug addicts and people under the influence are all three of these things combined. Allowing them to operate dangerous machinery and sophisticated tools is just outright reckless and may lead to a number of problems. Do not allow this to happen!

In conclusion

The most important thing worth keeping in mind is the importance of keeping everything fair and legal. For instance, you can only test candidates when you actually offer them a job. Then, if they pass you have to hire them. You can’t just randomly test job applicants that you have no intention of hiring. Other than this, you need to keep in mind the importance of stating the rules of this drug testing as early as their contract. This is really the only way to ensure that you always do what’s in your legal right.

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Stella Ryne

Stella Ryne is an art historian, writer, conscious consumer and a proud mother. When she is not trying to improve the things around her (and herself, for that matter), she likes to lose herself in a good book.

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