HR Issues

Drug Testing in the Workplace

by Caug124

August 2nd, 2010
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Doing drugs in the workplace is never a good idea. While the legal implications of being allowed to test for drugs in the workplace is debatable, it is a common practice for a number of good reasons. If you work in an area that impaired judgment of any kind could affect your work or your safety, many employers find it reasonable to fire you for violating drug policies and will often include the drug policy in an employee handbook as an introduction to the job as well as telling you about the rules before you are hired. This means that when you take the job, you agree to their drug policy and will allow them to test you for drugs as necessary.

Drug use or addiction can affect your job performance, making it a concern for many employers. If your job is taking care of kids in a large organization, you are expected to not show up to work drunk, on drugs, or in need of a cigarette. This is because you are a role model for the kids that you take care of, and their safety is in your hands– if a child gets injured through your negligence, you and the company you work for can be held liable. If you are working in a more physical job it makes sense that you will be tested for drugs after any major injury as most workers compensation will not pay for an injury if it is found that the employee was impaired in some way. This means that if you work for a hospital or a kitchen, even if there is not regular drug testing done, if you get injured you are likely to face a drug test when your injury is treated.

Drugs in an office are a little more tricky, but managers should always refer back to the company handbook and their management training for help in such situations. Many offices these days perform drug tests and will ask workers to test for drugs on a regular or random basis. It can be a sensitive matter, but when someone is on drugs and is in violation of the company policy they will need to be approached and their behavior discussed. In such a case, managers should tell them upfront what is going on, why they are in violation and that they will not be arrested, but what the consequences will be if the suspicions are found to be true.

The reason workplace drug tests are considered legal for the most part is because it is allowed for federal offices to give their employees drug tests. Some states have also passed specific laws making it undeniably legal for private companies to also drug test their employees. Any managers who need clarification of handbook policies or advice about handling suspicions about drug use on the job should consult their HR department and, if necessary, their legal counsel.  It’s also a good idea to consult HR in how to deal with employees who are returning to work after undergoing drug rehab or other addiction treatment programs.

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