You’re applying for a new job, and keep noticing on the advertisement that the employer has a drug testing policy. Why is that?

Employer drug tests are becoming increasingly common across all industries, with companies striving to have drug-free workplaces. Drug use in the workplace can cause huge problems for business owners, so random drug testing of staff is a popular way to avoid this.

However, have you ever wondered why companies do drug testing, and whether or not you can refuse to be tested? If so, keep reading to learn why employees require drug testing—and what it means for you.

Deter Current Staff from Using Drugs

Employment drug testing is often used as a deterrent for staff using drugs. Even if employers are only testing occasionally, the knowledge that they could be tested at any time often stops employees from using, as they don’t want to risk losing their jobs.

Wondering how drug tests work? Generally, the most common drug test for employment is done using saliva and a swab test. Results come back quickly and a very high accuracy rating.

If a test comes back positive, the employee may face consequences, such as time off without pay or termination. The punishments for drug use tend to be harsh, as employers want their staff to know that they take drug use seriously.

If you don’t want to work for a company that does random drug testing, you should pay attention to their testing policies before accepting the job. Otherwise, agreeing to mandatory testing may be considered a condition of your employment offer.

Can employer drug test without notice? Often, yes—they test without warning as they want staff to know that they can be tested at any time.

Employers tend to test for the most commonly used drugs—cocaine, opiates, marijuana, meth, and PCP.

Inspire Confidence with the Public

Many jobs, such as public transportation drivers, contractors, and retail, involve interaction with the public. Would you want to get on a city bus, or be served a meal in a restaurant, if you thought the staff member was using drugs?

Probably not. Employers want their customers to feel like their business is safe and that staff are sober and trustworthy. Often, drug testing helps the public feel safer interacting with a business.

This applies especially to jobs where staff have the safety of the public in their hands, such as the transportation industry, or in industries where a worker may enter your homes, such as a plumber or electrician.

Identify Staff Who Have a Problem

Employers invest a lot of time and money in recruiting, hiring, and training new staff members. This is done with the hopes that they will stay with the company for the long-term and contribute to its success.

However, a staff member using drugs is unreliable, unsafe, and may not stay with the company long-term. Therefore, drug testing is a useful way of identifying staff who may have a problem.

Some companies may want to help a staff member with a substance abuse problem, providing them with resources and support to help them get clean. Employers depend on their staff and often consider them part of the family, so they may want to help that person recover so they can stay part of the company.

Other employers may have a zero-tolerance policy to drug use and may decide to fire staff who are found to be using.

Comply with Federal Regulations

Depending on the industry, a company may be legally required to conduct regular drug testing. All federal employers, including government contractors and military personnel, are legally subject to drug testing.

These are considered drug-free workplaces, so workers must agree to be tested.

Any workplace that receives a federal grant of any size or a federal contract above $100,000 is also subject to the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, meaning that all staff of these organizations must be drug-free.

There are also many laws on the state level that govern drug-free workplaces and drug testing. This is often seen in industries that historically have high rates of drug use, such as construction and building.

Insurance Purposes

Running a company can be incredibly expensive, especially when it comes to insurance and risk management. Often, businesses can obtain a lower insurance premium if they perform regular drug testing.

Drug testing lowers the company’s risk of a drug or alcohol-related incident or accident at the workplace, so it makes the company a lower risk when it comes to insurance. Workers’ compensation insurance can be steep, so being able to prove that a workplace is drug-free can help lower costs.

Keep the Workplace Safe

Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol increase the chance of accidents in the workplace. When staff are under the influence, they can no longer safely operate cars or machinery, they may make irrational or dangerous decisions, and they can’t function in a safe and productive manner.

This means accidents, falls, spills, or unsafe practices are more likely to happen in the workplace. The consequences for the workplace are huge and can include lost income, expensive insurance claims and hospital bills, lawsuits, and negative publicity.

Employers have a moral and legal responsibility to keep their staff and customers safe and protected, which is why drug testing is important.

How Do Employer Drug Tests Impact You?

As you can see, employer drug tests are an important part of keeping workplaces safe and productive. Whether or not you agree with drug testing is up to you, but it’s something to think about when applying for jobs.

If you accept a job that has mandatory testing, then you need to make sure you agree to go along with testing as needed. Now that you know more about drug testing in the workplace and why they’re used, you can decide for yourself whether or not you’d feel comfortable accepting a job that does testing.

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