Volume 46, Issue 3 - April 2011


Acing the Test
You Should Be Drug Testing Your New Hires
By Paul Bieber

Often when you walk into one of the “big box” stores you’ll see a sign by their customer service desk that says: “We drug test all new employees.” Well, people looking for jobs may walk right out of these stores and go next to a shop like yours that doesn’t drug test.

Roughly half of new employees are drug-tested in the United States, including all government and military personnel. The other half includes the applicants who can’t pass. If you’re not testing, your hiring pool is already tilted towards the drug users.

About 25 percent of all job applicants fail their pre-employment drug test nationwide, which means that about 50 percent of your applicants will fail because all the non-users went to the government or to major employers. We conducted drug testing at our glass fabrication plants, where we employed about 250 people. We did so after the interview and after we said we were going to hire. About a third of the people failed the test. You cannot tell a drug user from an initial 30-minute interview.

People who test positive for drugs have a higher incident of job-related accidents. It is just a plain fact that you have to accept. This decreases your productivity, makes your worker’s comp insurance take off like a rocket, decreases morale when a coworker is hurt and puts your company in line for potential lawsuits.

The Legalese
You say you don’t want all the legal hassles with drug-testing … and you are right, there are some. But they can all be taken care of by an outside drug testing firm. Ask your attorney to recommend one, or simply go to your Internet search engine and you will find many firms that will do all the work for you. Once you are set up, your costs will be between $30 and $90 for each test, depending on the level of testing you want. The testing firm will walk you through this. It is a small price to pay considering the impact it could have on productivity.

There are other types of testing in addition to pre-employment. They are: after an accident or incident
in your plant, reasonable cause and random.

These are all important to do, and you may be required to do them if you are driving trucks across interstate lines or your trucks require a commercial drivers license to operate. Your testing center can advise you there. Even if you choose not to do the additional testing, the pre-employment should be a no-brainer for any business.

You don’t drug test every applicant who walks in. You only test after you have made a conditional offer of employment, the condition being they pass a pre-employment drug test.

There are two great websites that you should read: www.dol.gov/elaws/drugfree.htm and www.dot.gov/ost/dapc/employee.html. They have pages of great information and helpful hints on getting started. You are not violating anyone’s rights. The law is specifically on your side for pre-employment testing. There are some gray areas in the other test scenarios, but they are very minor and legal complications should not be an excuse to avoid drug testing.

Author’s Note: In 2011 we are shifting the emphasis of this column to a question and answer format. Please send your questions about business issues to paulbaseball@msn.com, call me at 603/242-3521, or fax to 603/242-3527. I don’t have all the answers, but I will research your question with experts in various business fields and get the answers. All questions will be verified with the writer, so please include your contact information. Your name will be withheld from the article at your request, but I can’t accept anonymous questions. Whether it is an ethical, legal or accounting question send me a note. If you want advice on marketing or a business plan, help with an employee situation or succession planning, I’ll help you get the answers.

Paul Bieber has 30 years in the glass industry, including 21 years as the executive vice president of Floral Glass in Hauppauge, N.Y., from which he retired in 2005. Mr. Bieber’s opinions are solely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this magazine.

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