Drug Testing Trends for 2019

A comprehensive drug testing program can help businesses promote a safer workplace and aid a productive work environment. Research shows that regular workplace drug screening can discourage drug use among employees. Drug testing can also have positive effects on the quality of products and services.

One of the biggest challenges that come with drugs in the workplace is the continuously changing nature of drugs. The opioid epidemic has still not left the U.S. Marijuana has been decriminalized and/or legalized in many areas, and is now also being used as an effective medicine for treating a variety of ailments. So, as an employer, you need to keep pace with these ever-changing trends when it comes to drug testing.

Top 5 Drug Testing Trends for 2019

It’s time to take a look at your organization’s drug testing policy. Here are five drug testing trends you need to be aware of in the coming year.

1. The Number of Positive Tests is Growing

Research shows that the number of positive test results across the U.S. has hit an all-time high after 10 years. Quest Diagnostics claims that there has been a major increase in the positive tests for marijuana in the last five years. Positive marijuana tests increased both in saliva as well as urine testing. A sudden rise in the number of positive tests hints at an overall increase in drug use.

States that decriminalized and legalized recreational marijuana saw the maximum rise in workforce drug use. 14% of Massachusetts’ workforce tested positive, 43% of Nevada’s workforce tested positive, and 11% of California’s workforce tested positive for marijuana. In Illinois, medical marijuana is legal for a limited number of health conditions, and 2% of the workforce tested positive, matching the national average.

People who work in safety-related jobs such as bus drivers, pilots, and other federal employees, also showed an increase in marijuana consumption. In Illinois, retail, health care, administrative services, and waste management employees were most likely to fail a drug test.

2. Marijuana Testing is Declining

Since marijuana has been decriminalized in many areas and the attitude of the government toward the drug is changing, it’s a fact that the drug is gaining popularity among the masses.

Many employers, instead of increasing the frequency of testing, are slowly decreasing it. Marijuana testing was mandatory in many companies. However, firms are now shying away from it. In fact, Maine prohibits employers from testing candidates for marijuana before hiring them or from firing an employee due to an initial positive drug test.

3. Termination Due to a Positive Test is Declining

Employers are not just taking marijuana testing lightly; they’re also helping employees who fail the drug test. Instead of termination, employers have switched to alternatives such as mandatory enrollment in a substance abuse counseling program or last-chance agreements.

4. Many Employers Don’t See Drug Testing as a Return on Investment

When employers weigh the cost of pre-employment and random drug testing against the results, they don’t see an ROI. They also express a concern that random drug testing can hurt the morale of the workers and push them to look elsewhere for work. Some states in the U.S. such as Colorado and New York have made it illegal to take action on an employee for engaging in any legal drug-related activity outside the office hours.

5. There are Potential Legal Challenges That Come with Drug Testing

Another significant reason why employers are more and more reluctant to test employees for drugs is the potential legal issues that could come with the screening process. This includes employees contesting that companies did not follow proper sample collection and testing procedures. The legal claims can also involve race, gender, disability, or privacy invasion.

The ClearStaff team has specialized in staffing and recruiting for companies in the greater Chicago area since 1997. If you have questions about hiring, please contact us.

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