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Pre-Employment Drug Testing: Benefits & Disadvantages

If you’re considering whether or not pre-employment drug testing is right for your business, you may wonder what the benefits of drug testing are, and if the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. The truth of the matter is that almost all of the disadvantages of drug testing that critics usually cite are factually inaccurate. Let’s break these arguments down.

Pre-Employment Drug Test

The most popular argument against drug testing is that it is just too expensive and too time consuming because drug testing requires that additional management training and HR policies be put into place and executed before employees are drug tested. In reality, the cost of pre-employment drug testing has become so affordable these days, it usually ends up being less than $75 per applicant for specimen collection, lab analysis and review, and the reporting of results. And the time it takes to put new policies in place and conduct extra training is a very small price to pay when you compare it to the time it takes HR to bring corrective action against and even terminate an employee as a result of the types of offenses that become more common when employees are using drugs. It’s far cheaper to avoid these problems from the beginning than it is to deal with them later on.

Studies have shown that companies that utilized drug testing were able to reduce absenteeism, accidents, workers compensation claims, loss of productivity, and employee turnover. According to the US Department of Labor, “Drug use in the workplace costs employers $75 to $100 billion dollars annually in lost time, accidents, health care, and workers compensation costs. Sixty-five percent of all accidents on the job are related to drug or alcohol, and substance abusers utilize 16 times as many health care benefits and are six times more likely to file workers compensation claims then non-abusers”. Workers that are abusing drugs are also less productive in the workplace than their peers, and far more likely to switch jobs frequently. All of these costs add up for a business! Considering how much it costs to recruit, hire, and train a new employee the cost of drug testing is completely justified.

In fact, business insurance premiums are calculated depending on workplace risk. So if a workplace has a lot of accidents occurring regularly it opens them up to more risk in the form of having to pay workmen’s compensation claims. More risk means higher insurance prices. Mitigating risk by eliminating the riskiest workers means that companies can actually save on insurance by utilizing drug testing as a part of company policy.

Another argument is that drug testing can open you up to potential lawsuits from employees that were rejected employment or current employees that refuse testing or are let go as a result of a positive drug test. Legislation across all of the U.S. protects companies that choose to do pre-employment drug testing, regular drug testing for current employees, or random drug testing in the workplace. As long as your drug testing plans are laid out in advance to employees and the consequences of a positive test are clearly spelled out to them, employees cannot sue their employers for invasion of privacy or discrimination on the grounds of drug testing.

Lastly, critics of drug testing say that it creates resentment in the workplace because it makes applicants and employees feel like the company doesn’t trust them. They also say that it’s bad for company morale and culture. What workers need to understand is that business owners have to keep the best interests of the business in mind with every decision that they make. So while it may be inconvenient or annoying for workers to be drug tested, ultimately it makes the business a safer place for all employees to work and it makes the business more profitable. These are both important benefits of drug testing to convey to employees so that they will understand the value in implementing and maintaining a drug testing program.