A range of different workplace now ensure that they are able to randomly drug test anyone in the workplace. We commonly see this practice in workplace with heavy machinery or driving. However, it is not exclusive to this type of work, and even office workers can sometimes be drug tested. Generally speaking, urine tests are used to detect drugs. Through this test, a stick is dipped in urine, which changes color depending on the drugs that are present. These tests are increasingly common, but it is very rare for businesses to truly look at the pros and cons of doing them. As such, it may be interesting to review what the advantages and disadvantages actually are.
The biggest benefit is, of course, that it should reduce the number of people who attend work while under the influence of drugs. It is hoped that, on some level, it may discourage people from doing drugs at all. In a sense, it is a fear element due to the fact that the tests are done at random, meaning people never feel like they can take drugs and get away with it. Also, it is very easy to take these tests meaning they won’t cause downtime in the workplace. This means that there are no significant financial impacts of doing the tests either. The biggest benefit, however, is that the tests should, in theory, make the entire workplace safer.
However, a number of important disadvantages are also associated with these tests. Firstly, there is the test itself. In fact, when taking a urine test, most substances will no longer be detected 24 hours after they were consumed. Most people who take drugs are aware of this and will hence take their substances on a Friday, meaning they will be invisible by Monday. There are tests that can be done instead, but only the DNA test is really any better, and these are incredibly expensive. Another really big problem is that drug tests significantly reduce employee engagement. This is because employees feel as if they are not trusted, and guilty until proven innocent. When considering the vast majority of employees will indeed be clean of substances, this is an understandable reaction. For many, these types of workplaces are not showing any trust in their workers, which means they won’t give any back either. So should employers simply stop giving drug tests? Only you can decide whether the pros outweigh the cons. What is recommended, however, is that introducing the tests should be done in consultation with employees. By doing this, employees will not feel as if they are on trial and they will be more engaged.