Implementing workplace drug testing isn’t as simple as it seems. Employers naturally want to hire staff who do not use illegal drugs. However, workers claim that such a program violates their right to privacy.
As a business leader, it’s your job to find a balance between these equally valid points. You have to fully understand the advantages ad disadvantages of workplace drug testing before you can adopt any programs.
Here are some reasons why you should or shouldn’t implement a workplace drug testing:
Reasons for workplace drug testing
1. Ensures workplace safety
Workplace drug testing can help keep your office environment safe for everyone. If all of your employees prove to be clean, you can significantly reduce your company’s chances for drug-related incidents.
In 2003, the International Labour Organisation found a relationship between substance abuse and workplace accidents. Drug and alcohol use contribute to 20 to 25% of all occupational injuries.
Likewise, the Australian Safety and Compensation Council linked alcohol abuse to workplace fatalities. In its report, the group found that alcohol contributed to least 4% of all working deaths. It also led to at least 7.5% of all non-fatal workplace injuries.
Through the help of workplace drug testing, business leaders can positively identify workers suffering from substance abuse. They can then address the situation long before these employees can pose a risk for their colleagues.
Workers in high-risk jobs stand to benefit the most from a drug testing program. This includes those handling hazardous chemicals, operating heavy machinery, or driving vehicles. Drug testing helps ensure that employees are fit to work for their companies.
2. Prevents job performance problems
Drug and alcohol use can severely inhibit a worker’s ability to do their job well.
Since they’re not fit to work, they’re more likely to come in late or absent themselves altogether. Their disrupted work rate can result in poor quality outputs.
In an article by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Australian companies lose 2.5 million work days a year due to drug and alcohol use. This costs them more than $680 million.
Meanwhile, substance abuse reportedly cost workplaces $6 billion a year due to lost productivity.
The biggest point is that drug abuse is not limited to a particular type of industry, job or position. Drug users do not want to be found out and will do anything to mask the issue.
3. Protects your company from potential legal liabilities
Substance abuse in the workplace can also hit your company’s bottom-line in other ways. Allowing a stoned employee to report to work increases their risk of injuring themselves and their colleagues.
If an accident were to happen, you could end up dealing with a boatload of legal problems. It means that you failed to maintain a safe working environment for your employees under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
Workplace drug testing allows you to protect your company and employees from such a scenario. You’ll be able to identify a potentially problematic situation and steer clear of it.
4. Improves your company’s public image
Maintaining a safe working environment can help boost your company’s public image. If your company were to have even a single workplace accident, it could be devastating for your organisation. Everything fell apart just because you allowed a stoned employee to come to work and endanger their co-workers.
Such a scenario won’t instill confidence in your clients and shareholders about your company’s future.
5. Boosts workers’ morale
What better way to boost your workers’ morale than to let them know you’re looking after their well-being?
If you have a reliable workplace drug testing policy, you’re telling your employees that their safety is your priority. It will help them feel motivated and committed to their work since their company values them.
6. Helps address workers’ drug related problems
Workplace drug testing benefits not only the company but the employees as well. By identifying who among your workers is suffering from drug abuse, you’ll be able to offer them with proper help.
Drug testing isn’t about humiliating your workers. It’s about facing a serious health problem and addressing it before it becomes too late.
Some companies don’t terminate employees who fail their drug tests. Instead they offer them the opportunity to go to a rehabilitation facility to get the help they need. Once they prove clean, they’ll be able to get back to their jobs.
In some cases, workers can go to an outpatient facility, where they can still do their jobs while receiving treatment.
Reasons against workplace drug testing
1. Drug testing is expensive
Let’s be honest: a reliable workplace drug testing program costs a lot of money. Depending on the methods used, a single drug test can cost up to $40 per employee.
Other programs can cost more, especially if the company decides to include pre-employment drug testing. This can significantly impact a company’s bottom-line.
Unfortunately, some businesses tend to forgo adopting such a policy since they can’t handle the expenses involved.
2. Employees may complain about privacy concerns
Drug and alcohol testing at work is perfectly legal in Australia. Most companies include the program in their comprehensive workplace drug and alcohol policy. However, it doesn’t change the fact that it tends to alienate some workers.
For some employees, workplace drug testing violates their right to privacy. They believe such programs encroach on their personal space and their right to their own free time.
In cases, workers picked for random drug testing feel like they’re being singled out by their company. This makes them feel resentful toward their employers.
3. Opens your company to possible Unfair Dismissal lawsuits
It’s not uncommon for companies to fire employees who test positive for drug use.
However, workers often sue their companies for unfair dismissal. These lawsuits tend to be costly and time-consuming for everyone involved.
Before you conduct drug testing procedures, it would be best if you consult your legal department first. Make sure that your workplace drug testing policy is clearly understood by everyone in your organisation. This will help you avoid any major legal issues that might arise.
Time to choose
Just like with any program, workplace drug testing has its advantages and disadvantages.
In a sense it is almost like an insurance policy. You pay a price upfront with the promise of averting a potential major disaster.
So, depending on how risk averse you are will probably play a large part in your decision.
However, a drug-abuse free work environment remains a key ingredient in ensuring the health and safety of all employees.
It protects everyone from the devastating impacts of drugs. Not just your company, but also everybody’s families and the public at large.
What is your choice?