Arguments Against Drug Policies at the Workplace

Workers in an office setting may have less risk from an impaired coworker.

Workers in an office setting may have less risk from an impaired coworker.

Having a comprehensive drug policy in the workplace can potentially keep employees safe from accidents caused by impaired coworkers. Drug testing may make employees feel better, knowing that their fellow coworkers are not under the influence. Testing also has the benefit of catching someone’s drug use before it becomes an uncontrollable issue. While no one would condone drug use in the workplace, there may be reasons to forgo a company drug policy and testing.

Cost

If you are just starting a business or have many employees, drug testing may be a cost-prohibitive option. Although kits are available in bulk quantities, issues of storage space and expiration dates come into play. Time spent shopping for affordable drug testing measures is also time spent not being productive in other things. Some businesswomen may feel an occupation does not warrant drug testing. The administrative assistant answering phones at an insurance agency probably poses less of a threat if under the influence than a nurse would. While not condoning drug usage, companies can keep costs down by choosing to not administer drug tests.

Privacy Issues

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas, at least where drug testing is concerned. Drug tests can reveal usage for up to thirty days from time of inception. Some may feel that what happens outside of company time should not be subject to judgment. This feeling has led some individuals to initiate lawsuits against companies for drug testing. Legal professionals have even brought up the issue of drug testing being unconstitutional because it violates the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments that cover unreasonable search and personal privacy. Also, drug testing sometimes uncovers prescription drugs taken legally.

Accuracy

The top three drug tests are urine, hair and saliva. Of these three, saliva gives the most accurate results. There is also the tried and true passed-out-in-the-cubicle test everyone must pass on Monday morning. Urine and hair tests simply show inactive drug metabolites; they do not show if the person is currently under the influence. Another drawback to these tests is that they typically do not test for alcohol, one of the most abused substances. Urine samples have the potential to be tampered with or even switched. Saliva and hair tests are a little more secure but not as popular. Employers may wonder if it is even worth it to drug test if the results could be inaccurate or misleading.

Considerations

If you are wondering whether or not having a drug policy in your workplace is beneficial, it is best to examine all of the options. Drug policies do help to reduce workplace accidents. This is sometimes a placebo effect of employees not engaging in drug use because they know the company has a zero-tolerance policy. If you own your own company, you can brand yourself as a drug-free workplace, which makes you more attractive to customers. The important thing about creating a drug policy is to make sure it is fair to all employees and that it covers all aspects of drug testing. Having a human resource specialist or legal analyst review the policy before publication is advisable.

 

About the Author

Adele Burney started her writing career in 2009 when she was a featured writer in "Membership Matters," the magazine for Junior League. She is a finance manager who brings more than 10 years of accounting and finance experience to her online articles. Burney has a degree in organizational communications and a Master of Business Administration from Rollins College.

Photo Credits

  • George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images