Drug Testing in the Workplace

Thesis statement: Administering a drug and alcohol policy can be challenging, but it can also be beneficial to the manufacturing company. I. Administering a drug and alcohol policy can be challenging. A. The company must comply with State and Federal laws when administering the drug and alcohol policy. B. The company must make sure the implementation of the test is done in a uniform manner. C. Some employees may bring law suits against the employer for a variety of violations. D. Employers have to pay a collection site to administer the test and have the specimen sent to a laboratory for certification II.

The company may incur many costs that have been associated with the use of drugs and alcohol. A. Drug or alcohol use can cause accidents in the workplace, which costs the company a lot of time and money. B. Drug or alcohol use can create a decrease in productivity due to tardiness, leaving early, and absenteeism. III. The benefit of drug and alcohol testing in the workplace is much greater than the challenges. A. The company will save a lot of money if they reduce the number of accidents in the workplace. B. The company will increase productivity if employees are present at work and can perform job duties effectively and efficiently.

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C. An employee who suffers from drug or alcohol abuse can seek help from the company’s Employee Assistance Program. Drug Testing In the Workplace The recent, economic decline has increased competition in the manufacturing industry. It has become more important than ever before, to be as productive and cost effective as possible and to attract and maintain quality individuals for employment. For an employer, this means looking at all avenues of cost savings by focusing on the issues that will give the most savings, such as administering a drug and alcohol policy.

Administering a drug and alcohol policy can be challenging, but it can also be beneficial to the manufacturing company. According to the U. S. Department of Labor, “Of the 17. 2 million illicit drug users aged 18 or older in 2007, 75 percent were employed either full or part time. Furthermore, research indicates that between 10 and 20 percent of the nation’s workers who die on the job, test positive for alcohol or other drugs. ” With this being said, it is very important to conduct drug testing in the workplace in order to maintain a safe working environment.

Drug use not only costs the company a lot of money, but it may cost the employee their life (U. S. Department of Labor). Although there are many challenges in regards to the administration of a drug and alcohol policy, one of the major difficulties that Human Resource Specialists face, is complying with the many state and federal laws. These laws have been put in place to make sure that the testing process is done fairly. It is also very important that the implementation of these tests is done in a uniform manner, or the policy may be challenged by a number of legal theories.

This is why most companies hire a lawyer to research the laws so they can be sure that they are compliant when creating and administering the drug & alcohol policy. The company will also retain a lawyer to help fight employees who bring cases against them. Employees who are against drug testing in the workplace often threaten to sue their employers for a variety of violations. Some of these claims include invasion of privacy, emotional distress, defamation, negligence, and breach of contract.

These cases often arise when the employer has not clearly outlined the business reasons for testing or has not followed proper testing procedures. Even if the employee doesn’t win the case, the business may still lose money because of downtime to fight the case and the attorney fees. In addition to the costs of legal issues that may arise, comes the cost of having the drug or alcohol test administered. Although there are tests available for employers to use on-site, most employers send the employee to a collection site, where the urine is collected and sent to a certified laboratory for analysis.

This certification is very important, in the event of a positive result, since this requires laboratory confirmation and retention of a sample for retesting, if needed. A certified result will also be crucial to any lawsuit that may be brought by an employee who has signed the company’s drug and alcohol policy. Even though the challenges and costs of administering a drug and alcohol policy are substantial, the benefits are much greater. Kathryn Keep says, “A drug-using employee is 3. 6 times more likely to be involved in an accident, and five times more likely o make a worker’s compensation claim. Impaired judgment can result in slow reaction times and misguided decisions, which may lead to accidents. ” Each drug user can cost a company thousands of dollars, translating into billions spent each year due to work-related accidents or injuries. The company will have to pay the healthcare bills for the injured employee and will lose productivity due to the employee being out of work (Keep, Kathryn). Employees who use drugs or alcohol are more likely to be tardy, leave work early, or miss work all-together.

These occurrences can really affect the company’s productivity rate because there may not be anyone to fill the position of the absent employee, or the company may have to use someone who is less skilled. Absenteeism also takes away from the supervisor or manager’s time, because they will have to search for a replacement for the employee who is absent. Even more important than the cost savings or the increase in productivity is the employee’s well-being. Many companies have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in place.

It is designed to assist employees with issues such as drug or alcohol abuse and help them work through problems and issues that may lead to alcohol or drug abuse. Chris O’Neill and Joel Bennett say, “The EAP can help prevent drug and alcohol abuse by identifying methods to address factors associated with risky alcohol and drug use, including workplace and family stressors, worker tolerance for deviant substance abuse, and organizational norms. ” Some employers offer a “second chance” to employees who have a positive drug test result, if they choose to participate in the EAP program, which is usually free to the employee (O’Neill & Bennett).

Despite all of the costs and legal issues of administering a drug and alcohol policy, most employers find that it is more cost effective to implement a drug testing policy. These tests will help identify employees who pose a safety threat to themselves and their co-workers. Once these individuals are identified, the employer can recommend the use of an EAP program to assist with issues that may have led to the use of drugs or alcohol in the first place. If an employee is rehabilitated through the EAP program, most employers will allow the employee to return to work. This is a very good benefit to both the employer and the employee.

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