Workplace drug screening is a necessity in the work environment considering that 70% of the 14.8 million Americans who abuse drugs are employed. And when an employee abuses drugs, it can result in many workplace problems such as injuries, compromised productivity, absenteeism, and overall safety issues. But due to the circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers and employees had to develop practical ways to continue their operations. For many industries, this includes the work-from-home policy.

For many months now, working from home has been the new normal and even though there are advantages to working right in the comfort of our homes, it can also be stressful. In some cases, working from home can even exacerbate an already existing mental health problem. When it is time to return to the office, one of the concerns employers have to face is: Do employees need to undergo another drug testing in the workplace before returning to the office?

Here, we explore the issues that could affect your decision whether you plan on re-implementing workplace drug screening to your workers before returning to the office.

Why is drug testing needed for returning workers?

Flexibility is one of the advantages of working from home but the freedom to adjust your work schedule whenever you want can be a challenging task. If an employee is facing other problems or challenges in their life, they may have to cope with things on their own. In some cases, this can result in the use of illegal substances. According to a virtual presentation during the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Spring Highlights Meeting 2020, there is a surge in the use of drugs during a national crisis as people tend to use these substances for comfort.

While people may initially decide to use drugs at home, this behavior and addiction can ultimately continue once the employee is back in the workplace. And this can be dangerous for everyone in the workplace, especially in safety-sensitive industries.

What can employers do?

Employers need to re-implement the policy for drug testing in the workplace. If your policy clearly states random drug testing, you can reinforce this when workers are back to working in the office.

One important aspect an employer should address is when a returning worker refuses to take a drug test. Workers may have a valid reason why they refuse a drug test. It could, for instance, be for safety and health concerns due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, every workplace has its regulations and procedures. As an employer, you need to address this to avoid any problems in the future.

Final Thoughts

Many industries are new to the work-from-home environment and because of this, the lines of acceptable behavior at work became a bit blurred when this was implemented. Therefore, employers need to remind all employees about the company’s drug and alcohol policies. While employers may not have the ability to track their employees’ whereabouts, what you can do instead is to send out a strong message to all employees about possible consequences if they test positive during a drug test upon returning to the office.  


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