Testing It Up

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Businesses Make a Move Against Drug Abuse

Drug abuse undoubtedly has an impact on the community, and for employers into the United States, it means an estimated cost of $276 billion a year.

Seventy six percent of people who are dealing with drug and alcohol issues are employed. These employees, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, are not as productive on the job. They are more likely to take long lunch breaks, leave early, or sleep on the job, and are three and a half times more likely to be involved in a workplace accident. Their health care expenses also cost twice as much as their co-workers.

Employers attempt to control substance abuse costs in two ways: drug testing, and the implementation of an Employee Assistance Program.

In the state of Oklahoma, changes made to its Drug and AlcoholTesting Act provide employers with more latitude in conducting drug tests for their employers, and reduces the cost of unemployment insurance by denying claims from former employees who lost their jobs because they failed a drug test.

Before these changes, which took effect in November, a worker could be subjected to drug testing if the employer had reasonable suspicion. The amendments provided “for cause” testing, and expanded the circumstances that would trigger a drug test, such as negative performance patterns and excessive or unexplained absenteeism or tardiness.

Former state Rep. Dan Sullivan, one of the authors of the bill, shared: “We wanted to make sure we protected employees … but also make it simpler for employers to implement.”

Tags: drug testing at work, drug testing in the workplace, employee drug testing
March 14, 2012 at 4:30 am
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