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Forty-four states, including California, have legal requirements mandating that employers conduct employee drug testing. In addition, although there are no comprehensive federal laws governing drug testing, there are regulations which apply to certain industries and circumstances.

Above and beyond the legal ramifications, there are pros and cons associated with drug testing. When setting your policy and procedure, it helps to look closely at related facts, figures and details.

The Numbers Tell the Story

In 2014, the percentage of positive drug tests among American workers increased for the first time in more than a decade. Studies suggest that this rise was fueled by increasing use of marijuana and abuse of prescription medications.

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the cost of drug use and abuse in the workplace is between $75 billion and $100 billion per year.
  • Related research has shown that 9.7 percent of Americans smoke marijuana before going to work.

What the Law Dictates

Federal law requires drug and alcohol testing in certain industries, including transportation, defense and health care.

The Drug-Free Workplace Act applies to all federal contractors with contracts in excess of $100,000. Covered employers must publish and give a policy statement to employees informing them that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of a controlled substance is prohibited.

  • The statement must state penalties for policy violations, and employers must establish a drug-free awareness program. Also required is a penalty or participation in a rehab program by any employee convicted of a reportable incident.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) imposes some regulations, as well. Under this law:

  • Employers cannot ask applicants about treatment or counseling received for prior illegal drug or alcohol use. It is, however, permissible to ask about current illegal substance abuse. An employee with a history of abuse whose current habits affect job performance is not protected under the ADA.

As a California employer, you may test your current employees upon reasonable suspicion of drug use. Random tests are allowed for individuals in safety or security-sensitive jobs.

  • Post-offer tests are permitted in California, but you must test all employees in the same position.

Pros and Cons to Consider

In addition to legal compliance, the benefits of workplace drug testing include:

  • Increased attendance and productivity.
  • Maintenance of better safety records due to fewer accidents.
  • Decreased liability and reputational risk.
  • Lower health insurance costs.
  • Less shrinkage and theft.
  • Provision of a means to identify any employees in need of assistance.

On the downside, drug testing:

  • Has a potentially negative effect on morale.
  • Can result in false negative or false positive results.
  • Does not determine impairment or current drug use.

As you develop or refine your drug testing and other policies and procedures, contact the workforce development experts at PrideStaff Modesto for any assistance you need along the way. Contact us today to begin the process and learn more about our services.

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