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Navigating the Changing Drug Screen Policy Landscape

With the decriminalization of marijuana in many states and on the horizon for the Southeast, you need to know: What is your company policy for drug screens?

By Sarah Sunderman, Director of Human Resources, Compliance and Talent Relations at Hire Dynamics

Per The Washington Post, in 1996 when unemployment was high, 81% of companies required a pre-employment drug screen before extending a formal offer. That number dropped to 66% by 2018.  Experts see a correlation with the increasingly tight labor market.  When companies fear that they will not have enough candidates, they order fewer drug screens.  Ditto for random drug screens of employees.

At our Safety Roundtable in Spartanburg, SC, prominent local Manufacturing and HR representatives debated, “Where do you draw the line?”

One day marijuana may be decriminalized throughout the nation, so companies must take a proactive approach to flex with changing laws in the states in which they do business.  Below are thought starters, and potential solutions, to begin to address this challenge:

  • Think through what type of drug screen panel you want to use. There are highly detailed 10-12 panel drug screens. Meanwhile, a 3-5 panel drug screen that addresses the “big hitters” costs 30-40% less.  If you still want to screen candidates for drugs and are not as worried about marijuana, you can leave that specific drug out.
  • Consider the concentration levels of the drug before ruling a candidate out completely. Were they on vacation in a state where they smoked marijuana legally and it was still in their system when they took the drug test? This is hard to verify.  It also underlines why it is important to consider concentration levels and how impairment could impact the work to be done.
  • Begin a second chance program. If you administer random drug screens, implement a system that offers flexibility. If an employee fits certain criteria (good worker, no issues in the past, shows up on time) figure out a way to work with them to prevent a repeat. If you choose this route, then consistency is key.  The criteria must be clear, well-defined and applied in the same way to all.
  • Develop a drug rehabilitation program or offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). There is no better way to show your employee that you care than by taking an interest in their health and well-being. While showing up to work under the influence or doing drugs on the job is grounds for immediate disciplinary action, if a valuable worker has come forward with an addiction, consider paying for them to enter a rehab program where they can get the help that they need. One of our clients reported doing this with tremendous results. Almost every employee returned from their program with a renewed desire to work hard and be successful.

As marijuana laws continue to evolve, employers must carefully think through how to address drug screening. What is your company policy? Where do you draw the line? Before implementing a new policy or making any changes to your drug screening program, consult with your company’s legal counsel.

The Hire Dynamics Difference

At Hire Dynamics, we want each of our Talent to feel valued and to be successful in their role.  Therefore, we conduct an in-person interview and drug screen with every candidate before placing them where they best match a company’s culture.  This enables Hire Dynamics to ensure the safety and success of both our clients and our Talent.

The next time you think about the success of your business, consider the safety of your employees.  To discuss your drug screen policy, reach out to your local Hire Dynamics representative or call Sarah Sunderman at 678-708-4117!

©2019 Hire Dynamics, LLC

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