Should Companies Perform Drug Tests on Employees?

Performing employee drug tests is often as much for employers’ protection as it is employees'.

Should Companies Perform Drug Tests on Employees?

Private businesses and companies across the US have been conducting in house drug tests on their employees for some time now. But should companies be performing these drug tests?

A common concern and misconception about these types of tests on employees is that the owners of the said businesses and companies do not trust workers and may profile them. However, performing drug tests is often as much for employers’ protection as it is for their employees. 

In fact, the drug tests may be a necessity for businesses. In some states, it is a legal requirement for businesses and companies to maintain a workplace that is completely free from the use of illegal drugs. Implementing random drug tests is a way companies ensure they abide by such laws.

The rules and regulations around conducting these types of tests on employees vary from state to state and depend on the local government laws. Service providers like Health Street are also available to help with conducting different types of employee drug tests. 


Types of Employee Drug Tests


The two main types of employee drug tests that are currently used in the US are ones that are performed before starting employment with a business or company, and random ones that are performed throughout an individual's employment.

By using a test prior to employment, it can be quickly and easily established if a potential employee is a user of illegal drugs, such as marijuana or meth. This acts as a great way of screening those people that businesses and companies are thinking about giving a job to.

Because many working environments require the staff to be of sound mind and judgement, randomized and completely unannounced drug tests can be an effective means of finding those employees who are using illegal drugs on a regular basis and have some in their system whilst actually at work.

By adopting such a testing strategy, businesses and companies can ensure that all of their employees are complying with any drug policy that may be in place.

However, it’s worth mentioning that some members of staff have gotten wise to this and may always carry around with them some fake pee so that they can pass a drug test, even if they are actually intoxicated at the time. Employers should watch out for that as well.


Reasons to Conduct Drug Tests in the Workplace



There are many reasons why companies conduct drug tests on employees. Of course, each business and company will have their own corporate reasons for putting a drug tests policy in place and enforcing it. But some of the main reasons for employee drug tests include:

  • To reduce disturbance, conflicts and keep the workplace safe and conducive to work in
  • To reduce workplace injuries and accidents
  • To reduced employee healthcare costs and increased illness
  • To curb low employees’ morale, slackness and improve productivity and performance
  • To decrease absenteeism, downtime, and turnover
  • To identify employees who may have a problem with illegal drugs use and require help
  • To protect the organization’s public image and brand perception

It is only right that businesses and companies do all that they can to ensure that the environment that their employees are working in is a safe one. According to the National Drug-Free Workplace Alliance (NDWA), more than 74% of all current illegal drug users are employed and cause up to 40% of industrial fatalities in the US.

Moreover, half (50%) of workplace accidents and up to 40% of employee theft is caused by drug abuse, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. And many state prisoners and federal inmates say that they committed their current offense to obtain money for drugs, including committing theft and violent acts against others.

Anyone who is under the influence of prohibited substances has the potential to cause harm to their colleagues and themselves, either intentionally or unintentionally. It is, therefore, important that employers ensure that no employees turn up to work having just used an illegal drug – this is where random drug tests are effective.

Another point to mention is that those employees who are intoxicated are much less efficient in what they do than those who are not. This then can have a detrimental effect on the bottom line of any business or company if this behavior goes unchecked.

While the benefits of conducting drug testing far outweigh the costs, remember that drug testing in the workplace should be used to enhance the health and safety of employees and those receiving services. Drug test must never be used to further marginalize drug users, say, by cutting off their access to social welfare or employment.

George Mathews is a staff writer for He is passionate about personal growth and development.