Pre-Employment Drug Screening Test and its Significance

A pre-employment drug test or employer drug screening is utilized to ascertain whether a prospective employee uses illegal narcotics or abuse pharmaceuticals. It can also be utilized for new employees who have just returned to their workplace after a layoff or absences, whereupon it might be described as a post-employment drug screen. Employers who do a drug screen on their job applicants are doing so in order to protect themselves and their companies from the potential harm a person with a substance abuse problem may cause. Also, employers who do drug testing may have greater liability exposure, especially if the employee is subjected to punitive action. A drug test may be the first step in eliminating the risk. But it may not be enough.

In many states, an employer does not need to perform a pre-employment drug test if the applicant has been informed of the potential privacy concerns. However, the employee must still be informed about the probable outcomes of such testing. An applicant may be asked to undergo a pre-employment drug test only if he fails an initial drug screen. If an applicant fails this initial screening, he can still be subjected to a subsequent test. The reasoning behind the policy is that a random  employer drug screening is not a safety-sensitive test under the federal definition of the Controlled Substances Act.

One reason that random testing may not always be appropriate is that the government considers many substances to be Schedule II drugs, even if they did not receive the government’s approval for medical use. Some examples of Schedule II drugs include synthetic machine stimulants, including speed, diazepam, methamphetamines, and ephedrine. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, some countries such as the UK and New Zealand prohibit the manufacturing, possession, and sale of some substances. Many states have implemented rules that require employers to perform random drug testing before employment, in order to ensure the protection of the health and safety of their employees.

pre-employment drug test
pre-employment drug test

Why Organisations should conduct these tests –

There are two basic reasons why an employer may require a pre-employment drug test: to protect themselves and others, and to reduce employee turnover. Random drug screening may reduce turnover by making hiring managers more aware of potential drug use by their applicants. According to a study published by the Society for Human Resource Management, companies with policies requiring random drug screening had a lower rate of turnover than those that did not implement these policies. Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that employees who were randomly tested prior to the start of an alcohol or drug treatment program were less likely to relapse into substance abuse within the treatment program over a one-year period.

Some states have additional policy provisions regarding employers’ pre-employment drug testing. In addition to requiring random drug screening, some states have also become law mandating employers to require pre-employment drug testing on a job applicant only if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person may have been using drugs at any time during the past five years. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, a majority of counties in the United States (at least) now have laws requiring employers to require that job applicants submit to drug testing only after they are hired. Although many counties have only adopted laws that mandate drug testing for certain jobs, a handful of states have adopted policies that require employers to request drug testing for all jobs, regardless of whether an employee has a criminal record or history of substance abuse. Due to the fact that state governments have great latitude in establishing which employment requirements constitute drug dependent behavior or substance abuse, some employers are challenging the constitutionality of these state laws under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fifth Amendment.

Drug testing at the time of application may also increase the likelihood of an applicant successfully completing the job application process and achieving employment. For this reason many companies utilize drug screening tests as part of their overall applicant review process. An employer who uses a employer drug screening as part of the applicant interview process may be more likely to hire an applicant with a clean record of substance abuse, if the applicant has not previously used drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, many employers also choose applicants with a history of substance abuse who then refuse to take the test because they believe that the positive test results will harm their chances of hiring the applicant. Under the current legal standards employers may obtain a court order compelling an applicant to submit to the test or face severe penalties if they refuse. If you would like to know more about these tests and the agencies that conduct these tests then you can visit online sites such as

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