The use of prescription drugs and other controlled substances is on the rise in Harris County. More and more people are using prescription drugs such as muscle relaxants and pain killers for non-medical purposes. While this may seem like a personal problem, employee drug use can quickly become a costly company problem resulting in employment litigation for business owners.
Many employers automatically assume that screening employees for drugs will be cost prohibitive. Even though it is true that drug screening programs do require expenditures, business owners find that the money spent is offset by the reduction in other costs associated with employee drug use, including: accidents, sick leave and workers’ compensation claims. You will also notice an increase in productivity and employee retention when your company requires mandatory drug tests.
Employers who want to start screening for drugs are encouraged to consult with a lawyer prior to doing so. A written policy should be drafted and it is important that it is in accordance with both federal and state laws. It also needs to comply with standards set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as this can sometimes apply to employees who have substance abuse problems. Once you have a drug-testing policy in place, you may want to include it in your employee handbook or employment agreement. Having a written policy will protect your company from discrimination lawsuits, allegations of wrongful termination, workers’ compensation claims and other employment litigation.
Historically, substance abuse has been more common in smaller businesses that hire less-educated employees. It no longer knows educational or economic boundaries, however. More and more affluent Americans are becoming addicted to prescription drugs. Small and large business owners alike can benefit from having an attorney draft drug testing policies and consent forms and instituting mandatory drug testing.
Source: Businessweek.com, “Advice for Small Employers Testing New Hires for Drugs,” Karen. E. Klein, Nov. 8, 2013.