Within the United States, the worker, owner, manger, and business relationship represents an interesting dynamic. While most other workers in developed countries are treated with a certain degree of respect, individual workers in the United States, especially those who have lower paying jobs may have to submit to a range of things depending on the position they have.
One of the most common requirements for people to sign off on is the potential for unplanned and random drug testing. A hot button issue that gets to the bottom of workers rights and responsibility, drug tests are more or less required of workers across the United States. However, does this make them right? Lets take a moment to review the pros and cons associated with drug testing in the United States, along with what drug testing actually means so that we have a firm basis to begin the conversation.
The Pros Of Drug Testing In The Workplace
The pros of drug testing include maintaining some level of safety, security, and control over workers. While it is rare for managers or upper level individuals in a company to be drug tested, it is not uncommon for general workers to have to submit to drug testing in order to guarantee that they are not under the influence. With that in mind, lets review the pros of drug testing.
1. A Disincentive To Do Drugs
The most direct result from drug testing, or the treat of drug testing, is the hope that it will keep people from doing drugs. This is because it is assumed that drug use will make working more challenging. Though mandatory drug tests assume on the part of management that workers cannot take care of themselves, it does help to prove a disincentive to those who would otherwise do drugs.
2. Greater Security In The Workplace
One of the threats that drugs provide in the workplace is decreased safety. While most drugs will not make someone violent, things like alcohol will impair a person’s ability to operate machinery, making them a danger to themselves and others. When it comes to jobs where people’s lives are on the line, it helps to have this kind of insurance policy put into place. The threat of drug testing also helps drive home how complicated and challenging the particular task can be to everyone involved.
3. An Insurance Policy For Liability
Simply put, drug testing, and requiring drug tests, is the best way for a company to protect itself if an employee is being irresponsible and taking drugs that effect their work. Without a provision like this in place, it may be very difficult for a company to remove someone who is a potential danger to themselves and others. With drug testing permitted, the company can ensure safety and the continuation of a productive and healthy work space.
The Cons of Drug Testing In the Workplace
While the pros of drug testing mostly apply to the continued success and productivity of the company, the cons fall on the shoulders of individual workers and a system that is by no means fool proof. Lets take a moment now to examine these cons in more detail.
1. Cost Can Be High
The cost of a drug test can range from as low as $7 to upwards of $75+ depending on the nature of the test and what you want an employee tested for. While this may not cost that much for one person, drug testing an entire staff or group of workers can become very expensive very quickly. As a result, many companies are using drug tests as a treat instead of as inevitability. Think back to when you were last applying for work. How many companies that advertised drug testing ever drug tested you?
2. An Invasion of Privacy
One of the biggest concerns regarding drug testing is that it is an invasion of privacy and devaluation of the individual worker. If we assume that trust and respect are necessary, then a drug test removes the trust and respect that an employer has for their employee. Now work is less about a functional series of relationships where employees feel empowered to do well and instead reflects a system of control by a management that does not care for their work force.
In addition, what individuals do at home is argued to be no business of their employer. For example, if a person drinks alcohol and is responsible, then they will be perfectly suited to work while their test records show that they are not. Individuals can get fired for things that have nothing to do with their workplace performance. Because of drug testing, individuals will feel less of a connection with the place they work, less desire to do well for the company they work for, and less interest in seeing the company succeed. Consider the incredibly low number of individuals using substances that can affect their performance, drug testing is creating more harm then good.
3. Will Not Pick Up On Many Things In Time
There are a number of things that a drug test will pick up on, as well as several things that it is more or less useful for. For example, marijuana, legal for recreational use in 3 states and legal for medical use in 23 states can stay in the body and blood stream for weeks after use. A drug test will pick up on things done by a private citizen when they were not at work that will in no way affect their work. In addition, if an employee is addicted to Heroin, Cocaine, Amphetamines, methamphetamines, or PCP (all things that will affect a person’s performance even if they are not using at the moment) will not be detected unless the individual uses a day our two prior to the screening.
While drug testing can be seen as an invasion of the worker’s privacy, it is one of the only ways that an employer can ensure the productivity, healthy, and well being of its employees. While rarely acted on and also potentially expensive, a drug test can create animosity between workers and their employer. However, given that we are currently in an employer’s market regarding who to select for a position, it will be a long time before potential employees will have enough of a say during the hiring process to refuse drug testing without losing the job.
About Drug Testing In The United States
A result of White House Drug Control Policies Signed By then president George Bush Senior, much of what would later become drug testing in the United States began nearly 20 years ago. Drug testing is required by employers for any new workers. While a drug test may never be issued, there is the requirement that employees sign off on being allowed to be drug tested in order to work in their position. Drug testing first started in more sensitive positions, but has since become common practice across the United States. As for the legacy left by drug testing, below are the pros and cons associated with its implementation so far.