Besides passing a background check, many jobs also require new hires to undergo a pre-employment drug-screening test. According to the Drug Testing Index (DTI), the rate of job candidates who failed the urine drug test has increased 5.7 percent in the first half of 2012 compared to 2011, although the positivity rate from random tests for current workers actually dropped 5.8 percent. This report from the DTI aligns with news reports that employers are having more difficulty recruiting new workers who are not drug positive. In order to gather accurate results, the DTI has been utilizing oral fluid testing instead of other forms of drug testing. Although both tests are highly effective in detecting recent drug use, collection of urine is unobserved. This allows people to potentially cheat and evade detection. In contrast, the oral fluid test requires the applicant to collect the specimen while a drug test administrator observes.
The most common drug found in the DTI urine tests is marijuana. Marijuana positives in the US workforce are around 2 percent, nearly twice that of amphetamines, the second most commonly detected drug. The use of amphetamines has also increased from 2011 by 11.7 percent while cocaine use among the US workforce has decreased 14.6 percent. Regardless of the type of drug, “Substance misuse negatively affects the workplace through lost productivity, workplace accidents and injuries, employee absenteeism, low morale and increased illness and can have a serious impact on business operations.”
Employers should be mindful of illegal drug use among new hires, but it is also important that companies distinguish between illegal and prescription drug use. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently settled with an auto parts manufacturer over a drug testing policy that required testing for all of their employees, including those who took prescription drugs. Any employee who tested positive for drugs of any kind, illegal or otherwise, was suspended from work. The generalized drug test policy eventually cost the auto parts company $750,000. Companies with an overly broad application of a drug testing policy should consider crafting a new drug policy that prohibits some prescription drug use if it interferes with actual job requirements. Likewise, companies should consider reviewing their background check policy at the same time, as the EEOC has stated that employers can no longer disqualify every potential hire simply because they have a criminal history, even if it contains a felony conviction. Companies are now required to take into account the job role when they analyze a criminal reports and make individualized assessment if they decide to reject an applicant because of their criminal history.
Although positive drug tests have risen since 2011, certain sectors, like safety-sensitive workplaces, have remained unchanged. Other sectors like home health aids have very low positive drug results as well. As long as employers do not over generalize their drug policy, these proactive tests can serve as the first line of defense against potential drug abusers getting hired. If your organization would like to implement a drug testing policy, whether for preemployment screening or for current employees, backgroundchecks.com provides Drug Screening. They have more than 2000 occupational health networks across the nation, where your employees and applicants can get tested with whatever type of drug test your organization prefers to use. They also offer their US OneSEARCH tool, which instantly searches more than 450 million nationwide databases for criminal records. When used responsibly, these two tools can help you gain a better understanding of your potential and current employees.
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Author: Michael Klazema
About Michael Klazema The author
Michael Klazema is Chief Marketing Technologist at EY-VODW.com and has over two decades of experience in digital consulting, online product management, and technology innovation. He is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments.