Acing the Test
You Should Be Drug Testing Your New Hires
By Paul Bieber
Often when you walk into one of the “big
box” stores you’ll see a sign by their customer service desk that says:
“We drug test all new employees.” Well, people looking for jobs may walk
right out of these stores and go next to a shop like yours that doesn’t
Roughly half of new employees are drug-tested in the United States, including
all government and military personnel. The other half includes the applicants
who can’t pass. If you’re not testing, your hiring pool is already tilted
towards the drug users.
About 25 percent of all job applicants fail their pre-employment drug
test nationwide, which means that about 50 percent of your applicants
will fail because all the non-users went to the government or to major
employers. We conducted drug testing at our glass fabrication plants,
where we employed about 250 people. We did so after the interview and
after we said we were going to hire. About a third of the people failed
the test. You cannot tell a drug user from an initial 30-minute interview.
People who test positive for drugs have a higher incident of job-related
accidents. It is just a plain fact that you have to accept. This decreases
your productivity, makes your worker’s comp insurance take off like a
rocket, decreases morale when a coworker is hurt and puts your company
in line for potential lawsuits.
You say you don’t want all the legal hassles with drug-testing … and you
are right, there are some. But they can all be taken care of by an outside
drug testing firm. Ask your attorney to recommend one, or simply go to
your Internet search engine and you will find many firms that will do
all the work for you. Once you are set up, your costs will be between
$30 and $90 for each test, depending on the level of testing you want.
The testing firm will walk you through this. It is a small price to pay
considering the impact it could have on productivity.
There are other types of testing in addition to pre-employment. They are:
after an accident or incident
in your plant, reasonable cause and random.
These are all important to do, and you may be required to do them if you
are driving trucks across interstate lines or your trucks require a commercial
drivers license to operate. Your testing center can advise you there.
Even if you choose not to do the additional testing, the pre-employment
should be a no-brainer for any business.
You don’t drug test every applicant who
walks in. You only test after you have made a conditional offer of employment,
the condition being they pass a pre-employment drug test.
There are two great websites that you should read: www.dol.gov/elaws/drugfree.htm
They have pages of great information and helpful hints on getting started.
You are not violating anyone’s rights. The law is specifically on your
side for pre-employment testing. There are some gray areas in the other
test scenarios, but they are very minor and legal complications should
not be an excuse to avoid drug testing.
Author’s Note: In 2011 we are shifting the emphasis of this column to
a question and answer format. Please send your questions about business
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you get the answers.
Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass
industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral
Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. Mr. Bieber’s
opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of
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