In 2012, an estimated 21.5 million Americans used illegal drugs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of those people, more than 14.5 million – close to 68 percent – were employed full- or part-time.
It is naive for employers to think that none of their workers are engaging in illegal activities outside of the workplace. The reality is that people may make poor decisions, and if those choices come to light, it can reflect badly on their employers. That’s not to mention that drug use contributes to a high number of on-the-job accidents and workplace hazards each year. For these reasons, many businesses choose to implement drug-screening programs to protect the reputation and integrity of the company.
Employers who are working to create effective drug-testing policies for their organizations should include these five essential components in their programs.
“Create clear policies on illegal drug use.”
1. Written policies
The first important part of a drug-screening program is the written policies and procedures that govern it. Human resource professionals should create documents that clearly outline the company’s stance on illegal drug use and the protocol that will be followed for testing. These policies should be in line with federal and local regulations and reviewed by an attorney.
Relevant protocols and forms for reporting suspicious employee activity should accompany these policies. Managers and supervisors need to have a way to flag workers whose behavior suggests they may be violating company policy. Some experts also recommend having an anonymous tip line or box where employees can report unacceptable behavior.
2. The right screening partner
If drug-testing programs are going to produce the desired results, companies needs to work with a reputable and reliable screening partner. Employers should know that they are getting quality customer service and accurate results in a timely manner. Luckily, Global HR Research works with businesses of all sizes to conduct on-site and random drug tests according to U.S. Department of Traffic standards. GHRR is a great partner for companies in all industries, regardless of whether they’re conducting pre-employment, post-accident or reasonable superstition drug tests.
3. Employee education
It is not just enough for companies to have written drug-screening policies in place. Employers should also implement education programs to inform workers about the company’s stance on drug use. These training sessions should clearly outline the company’s policies and procedures for drug testing, as well as the consequences of failed tests. HR should include a section about employee rights under the Americans With Disabilities Act and any local laws.
“Random drug testing may be most effective.”
4. Random testings
Employers are free to establish their own methods for conducting drug tests, but the DOT maintains that the most effective strategy for deterring use of illicit drugs is to implement random testing. The agency recommends that companies test randomly chosen workers at least once per quarter and schedule the testing dates in an unpredictable manner.
This method of drug testing has proven effective in a number of studies. The National Bureau of Economic Research noted that the U.S. military’s zero tolerance policy decreased drug prevalence rates from more than 27 percent to just 3.4 percent over the course of 20 years. The military’s procedures were examined in an NBER paper titled “The Effectiveness of Workplace Drug Prevention Policies: Does ‘Zero Tolerance’ Work?”
“Using the U.S. military’s policy of random drug testing and zero tolerance, we find that a strict employer anti-drug program is a highly effective means of deterring illicit drug use among current users as well as potential users, ” explained co-authors Stephen Mehay and Rosalie Pacula.
5. Set consequences
Finally, it is crucial for businesses to have firm consequences for employees or job applicants who fail drug tests. If HR requires potential workers to take a pre-employment drug screening, the Society for Human Resource Management recommended that candidates who test positive not be hired and be barred from reapplying to the position.
The consequences for current employees who test positive for illicit drugs may need to be more complex. SHRM suggested that the first time a worker tests positive, he or she should meet with management to discuss the results. After, the company should decide whether to terminate the employee or help him or her enroll in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program
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