Have you ever considered that your drug testing program could save a life? Many think that workplace drug testing programs provide the means to justify firing an employee who is performing poorly. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
It’s true that some companies attempt to use drug testing as a way to dismiss unproductive employees. We have discussed the mistake of using drug tests to manage poor performance in a previous blog post . Essentially, performance problems should be managed without sending the individual for a drug test in the hope that they’ll be positive. This is an example of ineffective management. Poor performance should be the reason for termination if that’s the case.
Some employers have employees with legitimate addictions that need to be addressed. As an employer, you can help an otherwise productive employee overcome a drug addiction. Previously, we addressed the fact that it makes economic sense to help an employee overcome their drug or alcohol addiction and regain their productivity . We’ve also talked about the reasons why zero tolerance policy doesn’t always make economic sense.
Beyond this, however, what’s most important is an employer’s duty to look out for their employees. No one deserves to die because of a drug addiction and employers can save a life by acting. Most employers should have an employee assistance program in place. These programs can be provided to employees at little or no cost to them. If individuals have resources at their disposal, they can seek the treatment they need.
Listed below is a summary of an informative article in Forbes on this topic. We also encourage you to read the article in detail here
According to The National Institutes of Health, opioid use disorder (OUD) and addiction have reached epidemic levels in the U.S., affecting 3 million Americans. Fentanyl, an illegal and highly dangerous substance, is also a major concern.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that pre-employment or random substance screenings for private-sector employers has decreased. This is because employee retention has been a problem, and applicants are often scared off by drug screenings.
New Obstacles to Contend With
More and more people are dying due to illegally manufactured fentanyl, according to data from the CDC. Fentanyl can be either pharmaceutical or illicitly manufactured, but both forms are synthetic opioids.
How They Relate to Your Workplace
Recently, The Wall Street Journal wrote about three employees who overdosed on fentanyl while working remotely. A survey by American Addiction Centers also shows that 22.5% of people admit to using drugs or alcohol while working. For employers, it’s important to recognize that issues like these can have a domino effect.
Of course, your workers’ wellbeing should always be your priority. Drug testing at work can potentially save a life (or multiple lives). However, drug and alcohol abuse can also lead to decreased productivity, absenteeism, turnover, additional hiring expenses, and other costs due to workplace accidents, healthcare, and workers’ compensation. Your whole organization could be impacted.
It’s Time to Act
Substance use disorders are expensive, but solutions are less expensive. Here are a few steps you can take according to Forbes:
- Meet with your leadership team and revamp your pre-employment and random drug screening policy.
- Help your workers get the help they need. Let them know they can discuss these issues openly and receive help for treatment if they seek it.
- Offer recovery options. Health insurance covers many forms of treatment if cost is an issue.
- Provide counseling services for all workers impacted by drug abuse in the workplace.
Ultimately, employers must recognize that productivity and profit are secondary concerns. Implementing a drug testing policy can save a life, and that’s more valuable than anything.
James P. Randisi, President of Randisi & Associates, Inc., has since 1999 been helping employers protect their clients, workforce and reputation through implementation of employment screening and drug testing programs. This post does not constitute legal advice. Randisi & Associates, Inc. is not a law firm. Always contact competent employment legal counsel. To learn more about how to save a life with your drug testing policies, Mr. Randisi can be contacted by phone at 410.494.0232 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or the website at randisiandassociates.com