6 Reasons to Drug Test Your Employees

Drug testing employees has been a common practice for many years, but it's often still misunderstood. One of the most common misconceptions surrounding drug testing programs is that employers establish them because they don't trust their employees. However, there are many positive reasons to drug test employees, and doing so can benefit employers, employees, and the public.

The answer to the question "Why drug test?" isn't as simple as it may seem. While employers are obligated to provide a safe workplace and have an interest in protecting their business, many still wonder whether employee drug testing is worth the hassle. After learning more about the top six reasons to drug test employees, you'll have the information you need to confidently make the decision for yourself.

Nicole Slaughter
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1. Protect the Company and Business

Some state and federal laws require business owners to establish a drug-free workplace, and many companies create a drug testing policy to comply with these laws. However, even if you're not mandated by law, requiring your employees and job candidates to take drug tests can help you build your company's reputation as a clean and ethical business. This can also help with the hiring process, as applicants who know they can't pass a drug test may simply decide to seek employment elsewhere.

2. Identify Employees Who Have Drug Problems

Employers are required to provide a safe working environment and can potentially face legal liability if an on-the-job accident occurs. However, without requiring drug tests, it's impossible for employers to positively identify employees who may create a dangerous working environment due to their illegal drug use.

Since statistics show that approximately 70% of all adults with an alcohol or illegal drug use disorder are employed, this is a serious issue that must be addressed. Requiring random drug tests and/or a post-accident drug test can also help identify employees who may have passed the pre-employment drug test but later developed a drug problem.

3. Maintain Company Morale

While you may think drug testing could lower employee morale, in reality, the opposite is often true. Employees who are using illegal substances are typically less productive. This can negatively affect their relationships with their co-workers, reduce efficiency, decrease collaboration, and lower overall employee morale. By requiring all employees to maintain a drug-free lifestyle, employers can eliminate many of these potential problems.

4. Lower Employee Health Insurance Costs

Drug abuse creates many health issues, and illegal drug users often incur higher medical costs than those who don't use drugs. This can result in frequent health insurance claims, which can eventually lead to higher premiums. Requiring employee drug testing can help keep premiums down for everyone.

5. Decrease Company Costs

Employees who are using drugs can cause accidents, which may result in workers' compensation claims, property or equipment damage, and potential lawsuits. Even if you eventually win, the cost of legal fees, time and productivity lost, and damage to your reputation can be expensive. Drug testing employees can help you avoid these costs and the potential fallout.

6. Help Employees with Drug Problems

Failing a drug test doesn't always have to mean immediate termination. When creating your employee drug testing policies, you can include a provision to give employees a second chance. This may include helping them get into a recovery or rehabilitation program and requiring both return-to-duty drug testing and random follow-up drug tests. This type of policy gives employees the chance to get clean and return to work while also allowing employers to keep their experienced workers rather than going through the expense and hassle of replacing them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do companies drug test?

There are many valid reasons to drug test employees. This includes potentially reducing employer liability, identifying employees who have drug problems, and increasing workplace safety. Drug testing can also lower employee healthcare costs, decrease company expenses, and improve employee productivity.

What is the most common pre-employment drug test?

The most common method of pre-employment drug testing is a standard five-panel urine test. This minimally invasive test checks for recent use of cocaine, marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP).

Should I drug test my employees?

When deciding whether to implement an employee drug testing program, it's important to carefully weigh the benefits against potential drawbacks. You'll also want to ensure that any program you're considering meets all state, federal, and local requirements.

Why do employers drug test? Drug screening helps keep employees healthy and safe, reduces company liability for workplace accidents, and may also reduce healthcare costs and improve productivity. For help with setting up a drug testing program for your organization, contact Health Street today.


Kelly, John F. "Working on addiction in the workplace." Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, 30 June 2017, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/working-on-addiction-in-the-workplace-2017063011941
Nicole Slaughter

Nicole Slaughter

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